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Taghmon cavalry, and the insurgents having made a movement to surround him. In this action lieut. colonel Watson was killed, and two privates wounded. During these transactions, the magnificent wooden bridge * of Wexford had been set on fire by the disaffected, perhaps with a view to prevent the arrival of succours from the opposite side of the river, or to cut off the retreat of the garrison, should the town be taken by the rebels. It was fortunately recovered from the flames by the inhabitants.
On the return of Colonel Maxwell a council of war was held, by which it was determined that the town be evacuated, as untenable, for the following reasons :
I. That the town of Wexford is so situated amidst surrounding hills, as to be indefensible against a numerous enemy, provided with cannon, by a garrison of only six hundred men.
II. That many disaffected yeomen had strengthened the enemy, and weakened the garrison, by deserting to the rebels ; and that a spirit of mutiny and disobedience to orders, appeared amongst the military, who were dispirited by the successes of the rebels. .
III. That numbers of disaffected persons were within the town, furnished with arms and ammunition, ready to assist the rebels, when they should begin the attack, and to 'fire at the garrison from the houses, whilst they should be engaged with the enemy in defence of the town.
To complete the dismay and distrust of the garrison, the North Cork militia, about half past ten, had deserted their post near the barrack, and marched to Duncannon, in which retreat they were joined by captain Cornock's yeomen infantry. On all these accounts colonel Maxwell immediately abandoned the town, sending two gentlemen to notify the evacuation to the rebels, to prevent its being treated as if taken by storm, and began to retreat to the fort of Duncannon, twenty-three miles distant, in such confusion, that, if the rebels had pursued, which
* This bridge which was completed in February, 1795, stands on seventy-five piers of piles, of six upright's each, with a drawbridge for vessels to pass through. It is one thousand five hundred and fifty-four feet long, and thirty-four broad; standing in twenty fcet of water. It was built by a subscription of 14,000/
was strenuously advised by some of the leaders, nearly the whole must inevitably have been destroyed. A great many loyal inhabitants, ignorant of the intended evacuation, which was determined on and executed with the greatest precipitation, were left in the power of the rebels. Many of these crowded on board the vessels in the harbour, in order to take refuge in Britain; but as most of the vessels were manned by Romanists, few of them effected their purpose, the ships returning to the harbour when the town was taken possession of by the rebels, and re-landing the people. The insurgents took possession of Wexford without opposition, to which the licentious conduct of the king's troops in their flight, burning cabins, shooting peasants, and committing every species of outrage, sent many to join their standards.
. The northern parts of the county of Wexford were, in the mean time, greatly agitated, as well as those of the south. As the judicious and liberal Mr. Gordon, rector of Killegny, in the diocese of Ferns, by his residence in that disturbed part of the country, possessed the most ample means of information, was even witness himself to several of those scenes which he relates ; and is justly esteemed for the veracity, candour, and impartiality of his details, we shall give his pathetic description of the distresses of the loyalists, in and about Gorey in that quarter, in his own words:
“ The retreat already mentioned of the yeoman cavalry from Oulart, early on the morning of the 27th of May, to Gorey, was followed by great numbers of the people hastening to the town for protection, and carrying what they could of their effects with them; many, however, through terror and precipitation, leaving all behind. As Gorey consisted only of one street with a number of lanes, was garrisoned by no more than thirty of the North Cork militia, under lieutenant Swayne, and a number of yeomen, assisted by an undisciplined crowd, some. of whom were armed only with pikes, to abandon the town, and retreat to Arklow, nine miles to the north, in the county of Wicklow, was at first resolved; but afterwards to defend the town was determined, carts and wagons being drawn by way of ramparts, across the avenues and the street, the undisciplined men placed at the windows to fire on the approaching enemy,
and the disciplined arranged about the centre of the town. In the evening arrived a reinforcement of the Antrim militia, under lieutenant Elliot, an experienced and excellent officer; but as accounts of devastations and murders, received in the course of the day, seemed to indicate the approach of an army of rebels, the apprehensions of whom were rendered far more terrible by the news of the North Cork militia slaughtered at Oulart, orders were issued to abandon the town and retire to Arklow, at five o'clock on the following morning, the twenty-eighth of May.
4 The earl of Courtown who had resolved to defend Gorey, if possible, and who, for want of an adequate force, was obliged to abandon it, had embodied a troop of yeoman cavalry in October, of the year 1796, and had added to it a body of infantry, and a considerable number of supplementary men. In other parts of the country, where troops of this kind had been embodied, subscriptions had been raised, and a stock-purse formed, for the defraying of a variety of extraordinary expences; but not a farthing was contributed by the gentlemen of the neighbourhood of Gorey to assist the earl, on whom was thrown the whole expence, and who exerted himself with an'. uncommon assiduity and activity. As he had performed much in the providing of a force to obviate or suppress rebellion, so his treatment of the common people, by his affable manners, had been always such as was best adapted to produce content in the lower classes, and prevent a proneness to insurrection. I consider myself as bound in strictness of justice to society, thus far to represent the conduct of this nobleman. Doubtless, the people in the neighbourhood of Gorey were the last and least violent of all in the county of Wexford, in rising against the established authority; and certainly the behaviour of the Stopford family in that neighbourhood, toward their inferiors," had always been remarkably conciliating and humane.
“ As the order to retreat was very sudden, on account of the imagined rapid approach of a resistless and ferocious enemy, a melancholy scene of trepidation, confusion, and flight, was the consequence; the afrighted crowd of people running in all directions for their horses, harnessing their cars and placing their families on them with precipitation, and escaping as
speedily as possible from the town. The road was soon filled to a great extent with a train of cars loaded with women and children, accompanied by a multitude on foot, many of whom were women with infants on their backs. The weather being hot and dry, the cloud of dust raised by the fugitive multitude, of whom I with my family was a part, rendered respiration difficult. The reception we found at Arklow was not well suited to our calamitous condition. Almost fainting with hunger, thirst, fatigue, and want of sleep, we were denied admittance into the town, by orders of the commanding officer of the garrison, captain Rowan of the Antrim regiment; and great part of the poorer fugitives retiring, took refuge that day and night under the neighbouring hedges; but the better sort after • a little delay, were admitted, on condition of quitting the town
in half an hour. The loyalists, on permission to enter Arklow, were obliged to deliver their arms at the gate of the barrack to the guard, who promised to restore them ; but, instead of this, they were afterwards formed into a pile in the yard of the barrack and burned. A man named Taylor, clerk of-Camolin church, who made some scruple to surrender his arms was shot by the guard. After our admission, our situation was not so comfortable as we might have expected, for no refreshment could be procured by money for men or horses, and the hearts of the inhabitants in general seemed quite hardened against us. But, for my own part, I found very humane treatment. After remaining some time in the street, my fa-, mily were courteously invited by a lady, to whom we were totally unknown, a Mrs. Hunte, into her house, where we were kindly refreshed with food and drink; and a gentleman, Mr. Joseph Alford, to whom we were equally unknown, coming accidently where we were, insisted on our going to his house, three miles from Arklow, where we found a number of refugees, all of whom were treated with the most humane attention.
6 Gorey, meantime, was in a singular predicament.abandoned by the loyalists, while the rest of the inhabitants in fear and dubious anxiety, remained closely shut within their houses, insomuch that all was in silence and solitude, except that an unprincipled female, frantic with joy at the flight of her imagin.
ed enemies, capered in an extraordinary manner in the street; and that a pack of hounds belonging to the fugitive gentry, expressed their feelings on the occasion by a hideous and mournful yell; and that six men who had been that morning, though unarmed, taken prisoners, shot through the body and left for dead in the street, were writhing with pain--one of whom in particular, was lying against a wall, and, though unable to speak, threatened with his fist a protestant who had run back into the town for something which he had forgotten. The yeomen returned in a few hours to Gorey, but immediately retreated again to Arklow; and one of them, in riding through the former, met with a dangerous accident ;-a quantity of gun-powder had been spilled on the pavement by the militia in their hasty retreat, which, by a spark struck by one of the horses shoes, blew up, and singed both horse and man in a i frightful manner, without, however, any fatal effects. As the rebels had bent their march toward the southern parts, Gorey remained unmolested, though destitute of defence. Filled as it was with a variety of goods, great part of which had been carried thither for safety from the neighbouring parts, it presented a tempting object of depredation; but the pilfering of the lower class of the towns people was prevented by the better sort of Romanist inhabitants, who formed themselves into guards to protect the houses of their protestant neighbours; and when a multitude of women had assembled at some distance to come and plunder the town, they dispersed in a fright on the receipt of false news that the Ancient-British Re-* giment of cavalry was approaching. At length John Hunter Gowan, Esq. a magistrate who had in a most meritorious and successful manner exerted himself many years in the apprehending and prosecuting of robbers, and had been partly rewarded for his services by a pension from government of £100 a year, collected a body of men to garrison the town. On the thirtieth and thirty-first of May, the greater part of the fugitives returned from Arklow to their homes, and the militia and yeomanry, who had abandoned Gorey on the twenty-eighth, resumed their station in it."
The insurgents having now taken possession of all the southern parts of the county, except Ross and Duncannon on the