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south western border, began to turn their attention towards the north also. For this purpose the rebel force was marched, on the thirty-first of May, to the Three Rocks, and there formed into three divisions, one under Beauchamp Bagenal Harvey, (who had been liberated as soon as the royal forces evacuated Wexford,) and Father Philip Roche of Poulpearsey, destined to march against Ross, another under captain Doyle and captain Redmond of the Queen's County, nephew to father Edward Redmond, of Ferns, who, with father Kearns, accompanied this body to Vinegar Hill, destined to attack the beautiful little town of Bunclody, better known by the name of Newtown-barry, situate ten miles northward of Enniscorthy; and the third division under the command of Anthony Perry, father Murphy of Ballycannow, and father Murphy of Boulavogue destined to march against Gorey.
Part of the division encamped on Vinegar-hill, about five thousand men, moved to the attack of Newtown-barry early on the morning of the first of June. The garrison consisted of two hundred and thirty of the King's county militia, with two battalion guns, commanded by colonel! L'Estrange; eighty yeoman infantry, sixty Newtown-barry cavalry, under captain Kerr, twenty of the fourth dragoons and Carlow cavalry, under captain Cornwall, besides volunteers, in all about five hundred men. The rebels advanced in two columns; one on each side of the Slaney ; intelligence of which was conveyed to the garrison by a reconnoitring party under captain Kerr. The town is built on the west side of the Slaney. Among the leaders of the enemy was Father Kearns, a man of gigantic stature, and of undaunted courage and ferocity. The attack was begun by a heavy fire on the town from a brass six pounder, a howitzer, and some swivel guns. According to the common practice of the military officers entrusted with the defence of the kingdom of Ireland, whether proceeding from want of courage or knowledge of their profession, it is not for us to determine, colonel L'Estrange abandoned the town with his troops; and would have left it, an easy prey to the rebels, defended only by a few loyalists, had not lieutenant-colonel Westnera at length prevailed on him to march back again for its defence. The rebels, meantime, by no means suspicious of the return of the troops, had rushed in confusion into the town, intent upon plugder and devastation. The attack of the colonel's men was consequently effective, especially as he was preceded by the two pieces of cannon. The rebels were routed with the slaughter of two hundred men; while only two of the loyalists were killed. Had the rebels succeeded in this enterprise, a communication would have been opened between them and their brethren in the county of Carlow.
Not till after the engagement was concluded, a reinforcement arrived from Clonnegall, two miles and a half distant, under command of lieutenant Young, of the Donegal militia, who had been ordered to march immediately to Newtown-barry; but who had thought proper to delay two hours in the execution of four suspicious persons, notwithstanding the earnest remonstrances of many most respectable inhabitants, and of lieutenant Holmes Justice, an officer of the North Cork, who believed the sufferers to be innocent. Even after this heroic executioner, whose superior discernment could thus detect and punish guilt, though perhaps she had not betrayed herself by a look, word, action, or even thought, did set out, he chose a circuitous route, upwards of double the distance of the straight road; which brought upon him the ill-natured reflections of many persons, doubtless eminently deficient in that prudence so necessary in hazardous cases, that the lieutenant was neither ambitious of sharing in the honour of a victory, nor willing to risk his person amidst the disastrous, consequences of a defeat. To such evil-minded persons this redoubtable lieutenant might have replied in the words of Fingal to his celebrated son, Ossian, “ Never seek the battle, nor shun it when it comes.”
Ossiar's Poems, This gentleman, moreover, distinguished himself by a superabundant care of the soldiery under his command; having, on his arrival at Clonnegall, not only insisted that his men should be comfortably situated in every other respect, but that they should be accommodated with feather beds, for which purpose several loyal persons were turned out of their own beds by his orders! To the remonstrances of other officers, not so skilful in the exercise of authority as himself, he used courageously to
reply, “ I am commanding officer, and damn the croppies." After his departure to Newtown-barry, this gentleman never returned to Clonnegall, in consequence of which the town remained under the command of that truly respectable officer, lieutenant Justice, who preserved so strict an attention to discipline, that, though Clonnegall is in the immediate vicinity of Carnew, it was defended with such intrepidity as never to fall into the hands of the enemy. In the action at Newtown-barry, two cart loads of ammunition, &c. were taken.
6 Hills of a commanding prospect were always chosen by the rebels for their stations or posts. These posts they termed camps, though they were destitute of tents, except a few for their chiefs ; and the people remained in the open air in vast multitudes, men and women promiscuously, some lying covered with blankets at night, and some without other covering than the clothes which they wore in the day. This mode of warfare was favoured by an uninterrupted continuance of dry and warm weather, to such a length of time as is very unusual in Ireland in that season, or any season of the year. This was regarded by the rebels as a particular interposition of Providence in their favour; and some among them are said to have declared, in a prophetic tone, that not a drop of rain was to fall until they should be masters of all Ireland. On the other hand, the same was considered by the fugitive loyalists as a merciful favour of Heaven, since bad weather must have miserably augmented their distress, and have caused many to perish. In these encampments or stations, among such crowds of riotous undisciplined men, under no regular authority, the greatest disorder must be supposed to have prevailed. Often when a rebel was in a sound sleep in the night, he was robbed by some associate of his gun, or some other article at that time valụable: to sieep flat on the belly, with the hat and shoes tied under the breast, for the prevention of stealth, was a custom with many. They were in nothing more irregular than in the cooking of provisions, many of them cutting pieces at random out of cattle scarcely dead, without waiting to flay them, and roasting those pieces on the points of their pikes, together with the parts of the hide which belonged to them. The heads of the cattle were seldom eaten, but generally left to rot on the surface of the
ground; and so were often large parts of the carcases, after many pieces had been cut from them: which practice might in a short time have caused a pestilence.
“The station which the rebels chose, when they bent their force towards Gorey, was the hill of Corrigrua, seven miles towards the south-west from that town. A body of above a thousand, some say four thousand, detached from this post, took possession of the little village of Ballycannow, four miles from Gorey, to the south, on the evening of the first of June, and were advancing to fix their station on the hill of Ballymanaan, mid-way between the above-named village and town, when they were met near the village by the garrison of Gorey, who had marched to stop their progress. Having returned home the preceding day with my family from Arklow, I happened to be at that time on the road near Gorey, when a man on the top of a house cried out to me that all the country to the south was in a blaze; for straggling parties of the rebels attending the motions of the main body, had as usual set fire to many houses. I had hardly got a view of the conflagration, when I heard a discharge of musketry, which continued some time without intermission. Since I have learned the particulars of this engagement, I consider it, though small and unnoticed, as one of the most brilliant of the croppy war.
6 The little army which had marched from Gorey on this occasion, consisted of twenty of the Antrim militia, under lieutenant Elliot, who directed the movements of the whole; twenty of the North-Cork; about fifty yeomen infantry, including supplementary men; and three troops of yeoman cavalry, the last of whom, I mean all the cavalry, were useless in battle. As the rebels had not procured accurate intelligence, and as troops from Dublin had been some days expected, the cloud of dust, excited by the little army of Gorey, caused them to imagine that a formidable force was coming against them. Under this persuasion, they disposed not themselves to the best advantage, for they might easily have surrounded and destroyed the little band opposed to them. They attempted it however in a disorderly manner; but so regular and steady a fire was maintained by the militia, particularly the Antrim, that the half-disciplined supplementals of the yeomen, encouraged thereby, behaved with equal steadiness; and such was the effect, that the rebels were totally routed, and fled in the utmost confusion in all directions. The yeomen cavalry, notwithstanding repeated orders from lieutenant Elliot, delayed too long, through mistake of one of their officers, to pursue the runaways, otherwise a great slaughter might have been made. The victorious band advancing, fired some houses in Ballycannow, and spread such a terror, that no attempt was made against them from the post of Corrigrua; so that they returned safely to Gorey, with above a hundred captive horses and other spoil.
“ In this engagement, and all others in the beginning of the rebellion, the rebels elevated their guns too much for execution, so that only three loyalists were wounded, none killed. The number of slain on the opposite side was probably about sixty, perhaps near a hundred. Many fine horses, which the routed party was obliged to leave behind, were by them killed or maimed, that they might be rendered useless. The hardiness and agility of the labouring classes of the Irish were on this, and other occasions in the course of the rebellion, very remarkable. Their swift:ess of foot, and activity in passing over brooks and ditches, were such that they could not always in crossing the fields be overtaken by horsemen; and with so much strength of constitution were they found to be endued, that to kill them was difficult, many, after a multitude of stabs, not expiring till their necks were cut across. In fact, the number of persons who in the various battles, massacres, and skirmishes of this war, were shot through the body, and recovered of their wounds, has greatly surprised me. A small occurrence after the battle, of which a son of mine was a witness, may help to illustrate the state of the country at that time:-Two yeomen coming to a brake or clump of bushes, and observing a small motion as if some persons were hiding there, one of them fired into it, and the shot was answered by a most piteous and loud screech of a child. The other yeoman was then urged by his companion to fire ; but he being a gentleman, and less ferocious, instead of firing, commanded the concealed persons to appear when a poor woman and eight children, almost naked, one of whom was
severely wounded, came trembling from the brake, where they · had secreted themselves for safety.