Page images

ers in the town to death had they not feared that the delay it would occasion might cost them too dearly. This account I have from a capt. of yeomanry, who opposed with all his might the perpetration of such a cruel and barbarous deed, and who, to his honour was incapable of countenancing such an atrocity under any circumstances. The retreat was thence very precipitate to Arklow, where a council of war was hastily held, at which it was as hastily determined to abandon tliat town, and this was accordingly put into immediate execution. Some were so panicstruck that they did not stop till they reached Dublin, but others stopped at different distances when their horses or themselves were not able to proceed farther. Gen. Loftus, on hearing the report of the cannon and other fire-arms in the engagement, not being able to go across the country, he proceeded round by the road to the scene of action, where he found the bodies of many slain, and did not learn the fate of colonel Walpole till he saw him stretched on the field of battle. He then moved toward Gorey, but thought it most prudent to alter his line of dil'ection upon being saluted by the insurgents with the cannon they had just taken, and which they had drawn up to the summit of the hill of Gorey, which is immediately over the town, commanding it in evei'y. quarter. The general, then marched to Carnew and from that to Tullow. The troops that had proceeded from Carnew in the morning, to co-operate in the intended general attack on the insurgents at Carrigrew, did not return thither upon hearing of the defeat, but made Newtown-barry with those who had come out from thence on the same expedition.

The insurgents were now in possession of the whole of the county of Wexford, except the fort of Duncannon, the towns of Ross, and Newtown-barry ; and were at perfect liberty if they pursued their advantages to seize upon Carnew, and also to enter Arklow, situated in the county of Wicklow, and what consequences might have ensued are now incalcu.


On the evening of the 4th of June, the insurgents stationed on the hill of Carrick-byvne, whither the Taghmon encampment, as has been observed, was transferred on the 1st, now proceeded to Corbet-hill within a mile of the town of Ross, the garrison of which had lalely received great reinforcements, by the arrival there of the Donegal, Clare and Meath regiments of militia, a detachment of English and Irish artillery, the 5th dragoons, the Mid-Lothian fencibles, and on this very evening the county of Dublin regiment of militia considerably added to its force, which upon the whole amounted to twelve hundred men, exclusive of the yeomen, all under the command of major-general Johnson, who expected an attack during the night, and consequently the troops remained under arms without being allowed to take any repose. The insurgents, led by their commander in chief, Mr. Beauchamp Bagnal Harvey, a little af. ter their arrival on Corbet-hill, vere saluted with a few cannon-shot and bomb.shells fiom the town, without producing any other, effect than that of encreasing their vigilance. Mr. Harvey and kis principal officers took up their quarters in the house of Corbet. hill, where, being regaled with an excellent supper and exquisite wines, they were so well pleased with their cheer, and so far forgot their prudence as commanders, that they had scarcely time to fall asleep since the moment of their retirement, until they were roused, by the orders they had given in their sober moments, to commence the attack at the break of day, Mr. Furlong was immediately dispatched with a fag of truce, and the following summons to the commanding officer in Ross :

« Sir, “ As a friend to humanity, I request you will sur. o render the town of Ross to the Wexford forces now 6 assembled against that town. Your resistance will « but provoke rapine and plunder to the ruin of the o most innocent. Flushed with victory, the Wexford

« forces now innumerable, and irresistible, will not

be controuled if they meet with any resistance : to "prevent therefore the total ruin of all property Gin the town, I urge you to a speedy surrender, 6 which you will be forced to do in a few hours, with o loss and bloodshed, as you are surrounded on all « sides. Your answer is required in four hours. Mr.

Furlong carries this letter and will bring the an. « swer.

“I am, sir, &c. &c. /

« B. B. HARVEY. “ Camp at Corbet-hill, “ half past three o'clock morning, “ June 5th, 1798.”


Mr. Furlong was shot the moment he approached the out-posts, which so exasperated the people, that they could not be restrained from instantly rushing on to attack the Three-bullet-gate, being the part of the town next to them; and this it was that principally prevented the concerted plan of assault from being carried into execution; as three divisions of their forces were to have begun their operations against different parts of the town at the same time. This particular division therefore not waiting till the other two should have reached their several stations of action, the latter not only did not proceed, but were scized with such a panic that they dispersed all, over the country, flying in all directions to their several homes, and bearing as they went along the tidings of a total defeat ; and this derout was in a great degree occasioned by the example of one of the divisional commanders, who without the least cffort, to answer the intent of his appointment, turned away from the action, and rode hastily homeward. Even in the town of Wexford, nineteen miles distant from Ross, the news of a defeat was announced, at an early'hour in the day, by many fugitives who had taken that direction, relating various and strange adventures to account for their own precipitate fight. One fourth of the numbers that encamped on Corbet-bill the evening before, did not stand in the morning of the day of action, so that even the division that commenced and afterwards continued the assault, was by no means complete, numbers of those who constituted it having also abandoned their stations, which were far from being adequately supplied by such of the two panic-struck divisions as had the courage and resolution to join in the battle, then going forward and in its greatest heat. From this statement however, it must apppear, that no plan was pursued in the attack by the insurgents, but that whatever they accomplished in the onset, must have been from individual courage and intrepidity. They first dislodged the army from behind the walls and ditches, where they were very advantageously posted, and on this occasion the cavalry in their charges were repulsed with considerable loss ; cornet Dodwell and twentyseven men of the 5th dragoons, having fallen in the first onset. The military then retreated into the town through the Three-bullet-gate, pursued hot foot by the insurgents, who obliged them to move from one situation to another, until they at last drove them over the wooden-bridge on the Barrow into the county of Kilkenny. The main guard at the market. house, however, consisting of a serjeant and fifteen men, not only maintained their situation, but even defended it with uncommon bravery and resolution, having two swivels to support them. Major Vandeleur, of the Clare militia, also continued the whole of the day, with a strong detachment of his regiment at his post at Irishtown, where he stood pretty severe duty, but not allogether so violent as it would be, had the place been generally attacked, according to Mr. Harvey's original plan, this being the principal entrance. When the risorgents had thus got possession of the town, they fell to plundering and drink, ing, or vbih tey becaine so intent, that they could not be brought on to follow up their advantage. In the mean time the army rallied on the county of Kilkenny side of the bridge; and although a retreat was

before determined on, yet they were induced to return upon perceiving that there was no pursuit, and besides they were powerfully instigated to this by the spirited exhortations of Messrs. M'Cormick and Devereux, two yeomen not possessed of any command, but the display of whose active courage and intrepi.. dity contributed in a great degree to turn the fate of the day, and to whose real merit every praise is justly due on this occasion, wherein few officers listinguished themselves, as may be fairly concluded from the official returns of the killed and wounded, these casualties in regard to the officers not bearing due proportion to those of the private men, which could hardly be the case had the former maintained their stations with becoming firmness. The county of Dublin militia on hearing of the death of their favourite colonel, lord Mountjoy, were the rest to renew the attack under the command of major Vesey. Their example was followed by the first of the troops, and their united efforts shortly compelled such of the insurgents as were not too drunk to fly out of the town, of which they had been, by this time, some hours in possession. Having respired a little however from their hasty retreat, which in a great degree made them sober, they again returned to the charge, and the contest which now ensued was maintained on both sides with great obstinacy, both parties being induced, by experience of the former, encounter, not to relax their exertions. The intrepidity of the insurgents was truly remarkable, as notwithstanding the dreadful havock made in their ranks by the artillery, they rushed up to the very mouths of the cannon, regardless of the numbers that were falling on all sides of them, and pushed forward with such impetuosity, that they obliged the army to retire once more and leave the town to themselves. But even after this they soon fell into the same misconduct as before, crowning their bravery with drunkenness. Of this the proper advantage was quickly taken by the army, who again renewed the

« PreviousContinue »