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After the town had been plundered, the rebels abandoned it, and retired to the high grounds, where they remained for one night in consultation and advice, which ended in a general resolution to retreat back through the pass of Scollogh-gap, into the county of Wexford. According to this determination, they moved from the ridge in the morning of the 25th of June, and directing their march towards Newbridge, took post at a place called Kilcomny, on a rising ground. Here they were assailed on three sides at once on the following morning, by a force of nearly twelve hundred men, under General Sir Charles Asgill, and that of Major Matthews, of about five hundred, from Maryborough. After an hour's firing of cannon, the rebels, fearing to be surrounded, fled towards the gap with their usual celerity, leaving all their plunder and artillery behind them. Their artillery consisted of ten light pieces, and among the articles of plunder were seven hundred horses. They forced their way back through the gap, to the mountains of Wicklow.
The other body of Wexford insurgents, which had proceeded, after the attack upon Gorey, into the county of Wicklow, were there joined by the forces under Mr. Garret Byrne, on the 25th of June, near Hacketstown, before which they appeared about seven o'clock in the morning. The military were drawn up ready to receive them; but having been forced to give way, they retired into the barrack and a malt-house adjoining, from which their fire did great execution. The insurgents deeming it impracticable to effect their design, without cannon, of which they had not a single piece, retreated from the place, after an action of nine hours, in which they lost great numbers, carrying off their wounded, and driving before them all the cattle from about the town; they encamped that night at Blessington. During the engagement, it is said, that a considerable force of our cavalry and infantry stood on a hill at a small distance, in view of the scene of action, but did not venture to join in the battle.
Disappointed by the repulse at Hackestown, the remaining Wexford insurgents, in conjunction with their Wicklow associates, directed their march towards Carnew, which they were
to the rebels, was the Orangeman, and not the Protestant. Even Sir Richard Musgrave affords evidence of this as late as the day, on which the rebels evacuated Wexford, from a certificate, which he says was given on that day by
"I hereby certify, that A. of B. in the parish of C. has done his duty, and "proved himself a Roman Catholic, and has made a voluntary oath that he "never was an Orangeman, nor took the Orange oath.
"F. JOHN BROE."
"Dated Wexford, June 21, 1798."
resolved, if possible, to carry; but Generel Needham having been informed of their approach, detached a strong body of infantry, and about two hundred cavalry, from his camp at Gorey, to intercept them. The cavalry alone, however, as the infantry were recalled, came up with the insurgents on the road to Carnew. These feigning a retreat, having timely notice of their approach, suffered the cavalry to pass, until they brought them into an ambuscade, where their gunsmen were placed on both sides of the way behind the ditches, to receive them. At the first discharge they were utterly confounded, and attempted to retreat in great haste toward Carnew. But the insurgents rightly conjecturing, that, when foiled, they would attempt getring off in that direction, had blocked up the road with cars, and other incumbrances; they were for some time exposed to the fire of the insurgents, and lost about eighty of their number, among whom were two officers, the Marquis de Giffard, a young Norman emigrant of the Ancient British, and Adjutant Parsons, of the Ballaghkeen cavalry; the rest effected their retreat to Arklow. The insurgents lost not a single man in this action; but they were foiled in their design upon Carnew, the garrison of which, being alarmed by the fugitive cavalry, had just time to secure themselves in a malt-house, before the approach of the insurgents, who, after an ineffectual attack, marched off to Killcavan hill.
On the 2d of July, as the insurgents began to move towards Kilelah, they were pursued by a body of yeoman cavalry and infantry, before whom they retired to an eminence, called Ballyrakeen-kill. Here they took post; but as the yeomen inoved up the hill, the insurgents poured upon them with such impetuosity, that they were in an instant utterly discomfited, with the loss of seventy privates and two officers; all the cavalry saved themselves by flight.
It had been lamented by many, that the Marquis Cornwallis, a viceroy of military talent, of benevolence, and humanity, and above all, of political firmness to resist and keep down the fatal influence of those, who had extorted the bloody system from his predecessor, should not have been sent sooner to that distracted kingdom. But the affected zeal for the constitution, the artful misrepresentation of facts, and the undaunted fierceness of those terrorists, had too long usurped the power of the viceroy, and abused the confidence of the British cabinet. It was, however, some atonement to poor suffering Ireland, that an appointment was at last made of a nobleman, supereminently fitted to heal her wounds, by a system of measures diametrically contrary to those which had inflicted and inflamed them. Within very few days after his lordship's arrival in Dublin, a
proclamation was issued, authorizing his majesty's generals to give protection to such insurgents as, being simply guilty of re
*The following is the form of it. It was published in the Dublin Gazette only on the 3d of July: but as it bears date the 29th day of June, 1798, it was probably communicated to General Lake before publication, as that general left Wexford on the 28th.
"WHEREAS, it is in the power of his majesty's generals, and of the "forces under their command, entirely to destroy all those who have risen in "rebellion, against their sovereign and his laws: yet it is nevertheless the "wish of government, that those persons who, by traitorous machinations, "have been seduced, or by acts of intimidation, have been forced from their "allegiance, should be received into his majesty's peace and pardon, commanding in the county of
specially author. "ized thereto, does hereby invite all persons, who may be now assembled, in any part of the said county against his majesty's peace, to surrender them. "selves and their arms, and to desert the leaders who have seduced them; "and for the acceptance of such surrender and submission, the space of four
teen days from the date hereof, is allowed; and the towns of
"are hereby specified, at each of which places one of his majesty's officers, "and a justice of the peace, will attend; and upon entering their names, "acknowledging their guilt, and promising good behaviour for the future, "and taking the oath of allegiance, and at the same time abjuring all other "engagements contrary thereto, they will receive a certificate, which will "entitle them to protection so long as they demean themselves as becomes "good subjects.
"And, in order to render such acts of submission easy and secure, it is the general's pleasure that persons who are now with any portion of the rebels "in arms, and willing to surrender themselves, do send to him, or to any number from each body of rebels not ex"ceeding ten, with whom the general, or will settle the "manner in which they may repair to the above towns, so that no alarm may "be excited, and no injury to their persons be offered.
"June 29, 1798."
of the parish
"CERTIFICATE OF PROTECTION. "THIS is to certify, that the bearer hereof, " of county of "has surrendered himself, confessed his being engaged in the present rebellion, " and has given up all his arms, and discovered of those "which he knew to be concealed, has taken the oath of allegiance to his ma"jesty, his heirs, and successors, and has abjured all other oaths and engage"ments, in any wise whatsoever contrary thereto; and has bound himself to "behave for the future as a peaceable and loyal subject; in consequence where' of, this certificate is given to the said in order that his
person or his property may not in any wise be molested; and all his majes"ty's officers, magistrates, and other his majesty's loving subjects, are hereby "enjoined to pay due attention thereto, in pursuance of the proclamation "issued General dated the day of "1798: and this certificate to be in full force as long as the said "continues to demean himself as a peaceable and loyal subject Dated at the day of "OATH TO BE TAKEN.
do solemnly promise and swear, that I will bear true "allegiance to his majesty King George the Third, his heirs, and successors; " and I do solemnly renounce and abjure all oaths and engagements of every kind whatsoever, which are in any degree contrary thereto.
So HELP ME GOD."
bellion, should surrender their arms, abjure all unlawful engagements, and take the oath of allegiance to the king. How necessary at that time such a step was, could be a question of no difficulty to those, who viewing dispassionately the state of affairs, considered what numbers had been seduced into the conspiracy by artifice, and forced into rebellion by unfortunate circumstances. To give the full sanction of law to that necessary measure, a message was delivered from his excellency to the House of Commons, on the 17th of July, signifying his majesty's pleasure to that effect; and an act of amnesty was accordingly passed in favour of all engaged in the rebellion, who had not been leaders; who had not committed manslaughter, except in the heat of battle, and who should comply with the conditions mentioned in the proclamation.
The Wexford insurgents had fixed their station near the White Heaps, at the foot of Croghan Mountain: from whence they moved, during the night of the 4th of July, toward Wicklow Gap; but on the morning of the 5th, the army under Sir James Duff from Carnew, under cover of a very, thick fog, surrounded them in four powerful divisions, before they could perceive the approach of any enemy: finding themselves unable to withstand a battle, they broke through the pursuing cavalry, of whom they slew about eighty, and moved with great celerity in the direction of Carnew. Upon their arrival at a place called Cranford, by others Ballygullen, they resolved to make resistance and await the approach of the troops however numerous they might be, although their own force were then very considerably reduced. They resolutely maintained the contest for an hour and a half with the utmost intrepidity; having repulsed the cavalry, and driven the artillery men three times from their cannon, all performed by the gunsmen; for the pikemen, as on former occasions, never came into action: but fresh reinforcements of the army pouring in on all sides, they were obliged to give way, quitting the field of battle with little loss to themselves, and notwithstanding all their fatigue, retreating, with their usual agility and swiftness in different directions. They agreed among themselves to assemble again at Carrigrew, where upon considering the reduced state of their forces and the advantages gained by the army, they thought it advisable to disperse, and thus put an end to the warfare in the county of Wexford.
The cessation of hostilities unfortunately did not close the miseries of that devoted district: a most rancorous, bloody and ferocious spirit of revenge and hatred seized upon many of the gentlemen of that county, and was carried into effect with outrageous barbarity. Their former claims to respectability in life for a length of time gave credit to their falsehood, procured
countenance to their fanaticism, and secured them the means of executing injustice. * General Lake, previous to his departure from Wexford, appointed a committee to superintend prosecutions, and to grant passes to leave the country, consisting of the principal gentlemen then resident there. The appropriate duty of this body was to enquire specially into the cases of such prisoners as they should hand over to be tried by court-martial, to procure the evidence for prosecution, and to commit different persons to gaol. It was not, however, deemed necessary to send a committal to the gaoler, as the word of any of them was considered sufficient for the detention of any of those given in custody; and they were also to act as a kind of council to General Hunter, whose benevolent disposition they thwarted on several occasions. This was in fact so well known, that many, upon being put into confinement, were induced, by their apprehensions, to petition for transportation, rather than abide a trial under their direction. The tyrannical, unjust, and inhuman disposition of this body is strongly exemplified in their unwarrantable treatment of many besides that gentleman, which he has detailed in his preliminary discourse.f
Different courts-martial were instituted in Ross, Enniscorthy, Gorey, and Newton-Barry; several persons were condemned and executed, and others sentenced to transportation. Among those who were condemned to be executed was the Rev. John Redmond, a Catholic priest, who, it seems, during the insurrection, had done all in his power to save the house of Lord Mountnorris from being plundered, which he, in some degree, effected,
Hay's History of the Insurrection of Wexford, p. 266.
†The quotation I have made from this author, as an eye-witness and a most aggrieved sufferer under this persecuting spirit of the Wexford Orangemen, seems to baffle all possibility of refutation. The unparalleled and almost incredible persecutions, which Mr. Hay details of his own sufferings from this inquisitorial court in the introduction to his history, freezes the blood of the reader: at the same time it rouses that indignation against the fomenters and supporters of it, that it becomes more candid to name such as the author has given to the public, than to permit the foul imputation to light upon the gentry of the county at large: (Introd. xxviii.) Six magistrates of the county after"wards formed themselves into an inquisitorial court, consisting of the Right "Honorable George Ogle, James Boyd, Richard Newton King, Edward "Percival, Ebenezer Jacob, M. D. and John Henry Lister, Esquires. They "assembled at the house of James Boyd, and summoned hundreds before "them, whom they swore to give such information as they could concerning "the rebellion. About fifty persons have informed me, that they were princi"pally questioned concerning me; so that I have strong reason to believe, that "no means were left untried to criminate me. My conduct has certainly un"dergone stricter investigation than that of any other person in Ireland, and "such, as I believe, that of the most unexceptionable of my persecutors "would not pass through unblemished; while mine is irreproachable in the "utmost degree, having passed with unimpeached honour the ordeal of the "Wexford inquisition. We read, of nothing that has gone such lengths in “foreign countries. Even the inquisitors are, by duty and oath, to seck out "all evidence as well for, as against their prisoners !”