Page images
PDF
EPUB

The garrison, in this obstinate engagement, lost eighty-eight · men, among whom were captain Pounden of the supplementary yeomen, lieutenant Hunt of the Enniscorthy infantry, and lieutenant Carden of the Scarawalsh. Besides these, many of a large body of loyalists who joined the troops as volunteers, armed with guns, pistols, swords, &c. fell in the action. The rebels lost about three hundred men. As many of the protest ant inhabitants as had time to escape, fled in distraction to Wexford, which they accomplished with difficulty. The weather was fine, and they were not pursued. The following account of the escape of the Rev. Mr. Handcock, rector of Kil. cormuck, and his family, will convey to the reader an adequate idea of the situation of the loyalists. Mr. Handcock had per. . sonally fought in defence of the town. * “ Finding that we could no longer keep our ground, I rushed

singly through the streets, with a blunderbuss cocked, and 6 presenting it at every person who looked at me, running for 6 my life, but without the faintest hope of saving it, or that of e my family, yet determined to share their fate; and with great “ difficulty getting into my house, locked and barricadoed by < the affrighted inmates, I dragged my wife down stairs with « my children, just as they sat in her sick room;* and observ“ing which way the fugitives were moving out of the town, I « forced them along with the tragical cavalcade, until my wife, « overpowered with terror and the heat of the flames, fell on a a burning pile of rubbish, where, unable myself, from fatigue, « to raise her, she would have been suffocated, or trampled to 66 death, had not a gallant fellow of the North-Cork militia, 66 wounded, and scarce able to drag his legs after him, assisted

me, swearing the Munster oath, “By J-s you did not for4 sake us, and I will not desert you. The poor fellow accord“singly stuck by us till we arrived at Wexford. In return for · this, having got my wife and children behind or before mounted “ yeomen, I procured a horse for his wife, and carried his 6 musket as far as I was able. When we came within three 65 or four miles of Wexford, we were met by the yeomen ca

* She lay-in only two days before.

199 s valry of it, who turned out on hearing our disaster, to cover s our retreat.”

On the morning after the rebels got possession of the town, it presented a dreadful scene of conflagration. Part of it was entirely consumed; and in part the flames were spreading with the greatest fury. Above four hundred dwelling-houses, warehouses, &c. were thus destroyed. The rebels, after having formed a camp on Vinegar hill, entrenched it, and erected some batteries, stationed a very strong garrison in Enniscorthy, and placed picquet guards, centinels, and videts, in all the avenues and roads leading to it for some miles round; which were relieved every day from the camp on the hill. The church of Enniscorthy having been stripped by the victors, they conveyed the bell to their camp, where it was employed for the purpose of marking the hours, and was to be rung as an alarum in case of surprise. And old windmill at the top of the hill was converted into a prison for loyalist prisoners. These were all tried by a court-martial, and on being condemned, were led to the front of the rebel line, where they were either shot or piked to death. On the morning of the twenty-ninth, the rebels executed no less than twenty-four persons.

CHAPTER VII.

THE town of Wexford, whither the garrison of Enniscorthy and as many of the loyal inhabitants as could make their escape, had retreated, had been in a state of the greatest alarm and consternation since the commencement of the insurrection, especially since the defeat of the royal troops at the battle of Oulart by father Murphy, on the twenty-seventh. The garrison had now laid aside all thoughts of giving the enemy battle in the field, and confined themselves to making every preparation for a vigorous defence. Amongst other measures taken for this purpose, all fires were ordered to be extinguished, and the roofs of thatched houses to be stripped, lest those inhabitants who were disaffected should assist the assailants by setting fire to the town.

In consequence of a suspicion of treasonable designs the sheriff and others had resolved to apprehend Beauchamp Bagenal Harvey, of Bargycastle, John Henry Colclough, of Ballyteig, and Edward Fitzgerald, of Newpark, all of them gentlemen of the county of Wexford; who were accordingly arrested on the twenty-sixth and twenty-seventh, by captain Boyd, of the Wexford cavalry. On the twenty-ninth, Mr. Boyd, who had hopes of dispersing the insurgents without either giving them battle or making any concession in their favour, or who concluded that he might at least be able to divert their attention and to retard their progress, visited these three gentlemen in prison, and proposed that one of them should proceed to the rebel camp and endeavour to persuade the insurgents, to retire to their respective homes. It was agreed that Mr. Colclough should undertake the mission, provided he was allowed to take Mr. Fitzgerald with him. When these two gentlemen arrived at the camp, the rebels were in a state of the utmost distraction; being undetermined in their plan of operations ; some proposing to attack Newtown-Barry, others Ross, others Wexford, many to remain in their present post, and not a few to return for the defence of their own property, against the Orangemen. On the appearance of the two gentlemen prisoners, however, as they termed them, the divided multitude collected around them with loud shouts / of joy and welcome. When Mr. Colclough had delivered his message, which was treated with neglect, he retired to put himself again into the hands of those by whom he had been sent, but Mr. Fitzgerald remained with the rebels, and that evening accompanied them to a post called Three Rocks, the termination of a long ridge called Forth Mountain, which forms the boundary of the Bargy and Forth barronies. As Three Rocks is only two miles and a half from Wexford, and as they were now fully determined to attack that town, they remained there during the night.

Meantime the several successful operatii ns of the rebels and their increasing numbers, had spread so great an alarm, that, on the morning of the twenty-seventh, two hundred of the Donegal militia, commanded by lieutenant-colonel Maxwell, and a six pounder, arrived in Wexford accompanied by colonel Colville, captain Young, and lieutenant Sodon, for the purpose of strengthening the garrison, consisting of the remains of the North Cork militia, about three hundred men; the Healthfield and Enniscorthy cavalry, captain Ogle's infantry, the Enniscorthy infantry, the Wexford infantry commanded by doctor Jacob, the Scarawalsh infantry, and the Wexford and Taghmon cavalry. Colonel Maxwell's reinforcement not being deemed sufficient, a letter was conveyed to general Fawcett at Duncannon-fort from the mayor of Wexford, imploring further assistance, by a Mr. Sutton, who returned with the exhilerating tidings, that the general would that evening commence his march to Wexford in person, and bring with him the thirteenth regiment, four companies of the Meath militia, and a party of

Cc

artilery, with two howitzers. Colonel Maxwell, on the receipt of this intelligence ; leaving the five passes, which lead into the town, guarded by the North Cork militia and yeomen, took post with his men on the following morning (May 30,) on the Windmill-hill above the town, with intention to march against the enemy on the arrival of general Fawcett's reinforcement :

That general, however, unfortunately for the royal cause, advanced no farther than Taghmon, seven miles from Wexford, from whence he sent forward a detachment of eighty-eight men, eighteen of whom belonged to the artillery, with the two howitzers, the whole commanded by captain Adams of the North Cork militia. The general was unacquainted with the position of the rebels at Three Rocks, which the detachment was obliged to pass on its way to Wexford. At the distance of four miles from Wexford, the detachment observed ten or twelve men on an eminence, and immediately prepared for action. As there was no further appearance of resistance, the detachment again continued its march; but at

Three Rocks, they were suddenly attacked by the insurgents, who, raising a white flag, and uttering loud shouts, cut to pie. ces nearly the whole party, together with captain Adams. The two howitzers and a considerable quantity of ammunition were also taken. The general, on intelligence of this disaster, instead of making any attempt to recover the howitzers, fell back with precipitation on Duncannon, from whence he sent his family to England, detaining the packet boat two hours for that purpose.

Meantime intelligence was conveyed to colonel Maxwell, at Windmill-hill, of the same defeat by lieutenant Fairclough of the Meath militia, and lieutenant Birch of the artillery, who had with great difficulty escaped the slaughter. That gentleman, who could have no suspicion of general Fawcett's retreat, instantly advanced to co-operate in the attempt he naturally concluded would be made to retake the howitzers. · When he

arrived within cannon-shot of the insurgents, he was attacked " by the enemy with the two howitzers, which they had drawn to

the top of the ridge, and which they used with a precision, that evinced the management of skilful hands. After discharging his six pounder several times in return, the colonel retreated in good order to Wexford, there being no appearance of general Fawcett's army, his flank being exposed by the flight of the

« PreviousContinue »