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Duff had made a rapid march from the latter with six hundred men, and received intelligence that a very considerable body of rebels had assembled at the Gibbit-rath, on the Currah, for the purpose of availing themselves of the permission to surrender which had been granted to them by general Dundas. Unfortunately general Dundas was not present to receive the submission of this body himself. General Duff's troops were accordingly ordered to approach them for this purpose. On the advance of the military, one of the rebels thoughtlessly swore he would not deliver up his piece loaded, and, presenting it with the muzzle upwards, discharged its contents in the air. The troops, with a thirst for carnage disgraceful to themselves, and two frequently displayed by the royal forces in the course of the rebellion, affecting to consider this innocent bravado as an act of hostility, instantly fired amongst the rebels. Panicstruck by this unexpected act of treacherous severity, the astonished multitude fled in all directions without offering to make the least resistance. Notwithstanding this, however, a company of fencible cavalry, denominated lord Jocelyn's Fox-hunters, eager to show their valour in the slaughter of an unresisting foe, pursued them with dreadful havoc, till a retreat was sounded, which general Dundas, who was apprehensive of such an accident, perhaps from his knowing well the disposition of the military, had sent an express from his quarters at Kilcullen to order. Upwards of two hundred rebels fell on this occasion; and perhaps a far greater number would have shared the same fate; had not general Dundas's wise measure put a stop to the fury of the troops. We cannot better shew our approbation of the conduct of that gentleman, than by inserting the following address from the corps of Athy loyal infantry, which reflects infinite credit not only on the general himself, but also on the corps by which it was presented :
" To Lieutenant-General Dundas, &C. « Sir -The arrangements, which follow the termination of a ob glorious war, being likely to deprive us of the man whose “ wise and humane conduct saved the lives of thousands, we “ cannot suffer the opportunity to pass, without expressing to
bude “our brave general the sentiments of gratitude with which our
" hearts are filled.
“ Placed at the head of our district, during, a period most sim “eventful and calamitous, your command has been distinguishDurcis “ed by the zeal of your conduct, and the humanity of your ire de « counsel, surrounded by armed bands of our misguided counOs “trymen. You first subdued them by your sword, and then
“ disarmed them by your clemency. In you, sir, we have “ seen the brightest ornament of the soldier's character-humani" ty, united with true courage. And when the unprejudiced “ historian shall write the events of the day, the name of Dun“ das will be applauded by rising generations.
“ Your kind partiality and attention to the Athy yeoman “ infantry, raised on the spur of the moment, have induced " them to offer this (the only tribute in their power) to their “ revered general. Wherever you go, you will carry with you " their invariable attachment, and the applauses of all true lovers “ of their country and of humanity.
. « For the corps of Athy loyal yeoman infantry, Athy, 1st Fan. 1802.
T. I. Rawson, Captain."
Though the conduct of this general officer, especially in the affair at Old Kilcullen, where he injudiciously ordered the cavalry to attack the rebel pikemen, has been severely censured by many persons; yet it ought to be taken into consideration, that that error by no means attaches to him individually, and is no proof of his deficiency in military skill. It appears to have been an universal opinion, until fatal experience brought conviction to the contrary, that cavalry were of greater service in the attack of men arıned with pikes than infantry. Of this the formation of so many bodies of yeomen cavalry, and the paucity of infantry, is a convincing proof. The general's conduct appears to have been no less satisfactory to the loyal inhabitants of the district in which he commanded, than to the corps of Athy loyal infantry. This they gratefully acknowledged in an address, published in the Dublin Evening Post, accompanied with the presentation of a piece of plate, as a testimony of their respect and veneration.
· Besides these attacks made on various places by the insurgents, and engagements betwixt them and the royal troops, commotions took place in the neighbourhood of Dunlavin. The garrison in the town consisted of a corps of yeomen cavalry, commanded by captain Ryves, and the light company of the Wicklow militia. At the head of a company of cavalry, the captain marched against the rebels, but was obliged to retreat, after some of his men had been killed by pikes. On his return, the number of prisoners under suspicion of treason being greater than that of the garrison, and apprehensions being entertained that they would co-operate with the rebels in case of an attack, it was determined by a council of officers, who ought to have been well convinced of the guilt of the sufferers before they proceeded to so severe and arbitrary a measure, that such of the yeomanry as had been imprisoned on suspicion should be put to death. In consequence of this determination, nineteen of the Saunders-grove corps and nine of the Narramore were led out and shot!
These open acts of hostility had been met by a proclamation of the lord lieutenant, on the twenty-fourth of May, giving notice that orders had been sent to all his majesty's general officers in Ireland, to punish with death, or otherwise, all persons acting or in any manner assisting in the rebellion. The proclamation had also been notified to both houses of parliament by a message from his excellency, who received their thanks and approbation of the measure.
WHILE a communication was, by the means already mentioned, nearly laid open between the metropolis and the rest of the kingdom, the flames of civil war were kindled, and began to blaze in a quarter where insurrection was least expected. The county of Wexford had enjoyed a greater portion of social comfort than perhaps any other part of the province of Leinster. Gentlemen of landed property in it were less addicted to the shameful practice of absenting themselves from their estatęs, so prevalent in other quarters of the kingdom. Improvements were made by them, which would have been overlooked in their absence. The farmers followed the example of their landlords; and the peasants were consequently employed with regularity, which introduced amongst them habits of industry and order. Rents were comparatively low. From all these causes this county was very slowly and imperfectly organized by the United Society. Besides conducting themselves in the most peaceable manner, the Roman catholics had addressed the lord lieutenant through the medium of lord Mountnorris, professing their loyalty, and offering to arm themselves, if permitted, for the preservation of tranquility. Government was so well convinced by these circumstances of the well affected state of the county, that 'not above six hundred soldiers were stationed throughout the whole of it; its defence being abandoned chiefly to the yeomanry corps and their supplementaries. The members who composed these corps of protestant yeomanry, inflamed by religious prejudice and the reports of atrocities committed by the Romanists in former times; or perhaps presumptuous from their imaginary superiority over the catholics, imprudently treated the latter with contumely and outrage. The magistrates, with equal imprudence, and that tendency to the abuse of power, so natural to weak and little minds, employed themselves in whipping and imprisoning numbers of persons whom they thought proper to suspect of disloyalty, often without sufficient grounds to authorise such proceedings. The body of six hundred regulars and militia, also ill commanded, and for the most part ill officered, contributed, by previous insult and subsequent timidity, to forward the work of rebellion. Those who insult and ty. rannize over the peaceable and submissive, are for the most part the first to shrink at the appearance of danger, and to fly from the presence of such as, by their own imprudence, and by repeated injuries, they have roused to resentment and to vengeance. The system of imprisonment and of flogging, however, appears to have been principally the cause of disaf. fection : “ I am well informed, that no foggings had place 66 in the town of Wexford, nor in the baronies of Forth and “ Bargy; and that in those baronies no atrocities were com“mitted before or since the rebellion."* Whatever might have been the state of this county, whether it would have continued in a state of tranquility or not, had not these rigorous measures been adopted; certain it is, that after the insurrection did com. mence, the number of insurgents was greatly increased by the lawless conduct of straggling parties of yeomen, who too frequently shot unarmed and unoffending persons in the roads, in the fields at work, and even in their houses.
On the night of the twenty-sixth of May, the standard of rebellion was raised for the first time in this county, by father John Murphy, Romish priest of Boulavogue, commonly called Father John, a man of mean intellects, and a fanatic in religion ; but at the same time eminently qualified to rouse the ignorant multitude to tumult. He kindled a fire on a hill called
* Note of the Rey. Mr. Gordon-See his History of the Rebellion in Ireland in 1798, &c. p. 103.