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French invasion at Killala-^CharaRer of Humbert— Battle of Castlebar—Motions of Comwallis—Motions of the French—Plan of Cornivallis—Battle of Coloony—Proceedings of the French^-Surrendry at Ballynamuck—Insurrection at Granard—Proceedings in the west—Storming of Killata—Prior transaRiorts at Killala—Plans for saving lives and properties—Forbearance of the rebels in the west— Treatment of the French officers—Executions— Macguire — Teeling and Tone — Tandy—Second French expedition—Death of Theobald Wolfe Tone —Exertions of Cornivallis.
'x\ French squadron of three frigates, two of forty-four guns each, and one of thirty-eight, which had sailed from Rochelle on the fourth of August, arrived on the twenty-seGond of the same month in the bay of Killala, in the county of Mayo, prevented by contrary winds from reaching the coast of Donegal, their place of destination. . The troops were immediately debarked, consisting of eleven hundred men, of whom seventy were officers. Humbert, their
chief chief commander, had, according to the military Chap. institutions of the French republicans, risen from v^^—J the ranks to the dignity of a general officer, had rendered himself conspicuous in fighting against the insurgents of La Vendee, and had been second in command to general Hoche in the abortive expedition to the bay of Bantry. So illiterate as to be scarcely able to write his own name, he was yet an excellent officer; of a fierce demeanour, the effect of art, to extort quick obedience by terror; in the full vigour of life, prompt in decision, and quick in execution. The garrison of Killala, only fifty in number, yeomen and fencibles of the Prince of Wales's regiment, fled, after a vain attempt to oppose the entrance of the French vanguard, leaving two of their party dead, and twentyone prisoners, among whom were their officers. To compensate as far as possible, by the vigour of his operations for the smallness of his force, appears to have been an object with the French commander. A detachment, advancing on the following day toward Ballina, seven miles to the south of Killala, defeated the picket-guards, and took possession of that town on the night of the twenty-fourth, the garr risou of which retired to Foxford, ten miles farther . to the south. In the defeat of the pickets, the Reverend George Fortescue, nephew to lord Clermont, and rector of Ballina, who had volunteered, was slain.
Though the military arrangements of the viceroy £|5f £f pould not yet be completed, a force more than gufc^g"1 27«
w h 3 fiwnt
Chap, ficient in appearance was quickly assembled to the VI', point of attack. With great expedition general Hutchinson arrived from Galway on the twenty-fifth at Castlebar, where he was joined in the following night by general Lake, the chief commander in the west. The habits of disorder, inveterate in the troops, could not possibly in two months have been eradi~ cated by Cornwallis. Of this the army here assem* bled furnished full proof in the whole of their coo^ duct. The gun of a soldier, by accident or design, exploded from a window. A cry was raised that a shot had been fired at the Longford militia, and a tu-» mult was excited which threatened the town with confiagration and massacre, with great difficulty prevent' ed by the extraordinary exertions of Hutchinson and other officers. Intelligence soon after arrived of the enemy's approach, and the army was drawn to an ad' vantageous position between the town and the ad' vancing French, who appeared at the distance of two miles from Castlebar, at seven o'clock in the morning of the twenty-seventh.
With design to attack this post as soon as possible, before the assemblage of more troops at that point, Humbert/had moved from Ballina, in the morning of the twenty-sixth, with the greater part of his army, resolved to atchieve his utmost for the excitement of rebellion by an early and deep impression. Instead of the road through Foxford, where general Taylor was posted to observe his motions, he chose a way through the mountains, deemed impracticable to au army, and thence unsuspected. He could bring no
other other artillery than two small curricle-guns. The Chap. carriage of one was broken by the asperity of the y^^^y road, and the repairing of it caused much delay in the march. His force consisted of eight hundred French, fatigued and sleepless, and about a thousand Irish peasants, who had joined his standard, useless in battle. To him was opposed an army, fresh and vigorous, advantageously posted, with a well-served irain of fourteen cannons. The number of this army has been variously stated, from six thousand to eleven hundred: the lowest computation, consistent at all with probability, amounts to two thousand three hundred; but I believe it to have exceeded at least three thousand.
At a sight so formidable, the French leaders con* eluded that immediate surrendry must be their fate, especially when they perceived the destructive effects of the artillery, managed by captain Shortall, which caused their troops to recoil. Determined, however, on exertion while hope remained, they ordered their men to file to the right and left, to advance in small bodies, under cover of the smoke, and to assail the foe in flank. Seized with a strange panic, the royal army shrank from the assault, broke on all sides, and fled through the town, in extreme confusion, on the road to Tuam, leaving their artillery and ammunition to the enemy, To rally them all attempts were fruitless, Their flight was continued to Tuam, which they reached on the night of that day, thirty-eight English miles from the field of battle, and was renewed, after a shorjt refreshment,
H h 4 toward.
toward Athlone, where an officer of carbineers, with sixty of his men, arrived at one o'clock on Tuesday the twenty-eighth, having performed a march of eighty English miles in twenty-seven hours. Where their course would have terminated we are left to conjecture, if it had not been stopped by the arrival of the viceroy at the latter town. Such was the behaviour of troops, enervated by the licence of tyrannizing over defenceless people, when once brought to face a regular and determined foe. Yet even with these would Hutchinson, I am assured, have conquered, as he was fully possessed of the confidence of them and of the people, knew the nature of the ground, and had formed an effective plan, if he had not been superseded by the arrival of Lake. The latter had accepted a command in Ireland which the excellent Abercrombie had before resigned as unworthy of a soldier: the former has since been the worthy successor of the same Abercrombie in Egypt, in the command of an army gloriously triumphant; and has, as an acknowledgement of his merit, been honoured by his sovereign with the title of lord Hutchinson of Alexandria. In the disgraceful engagement at Castlebar, the loss of the French in killed and wounded, though not satisfactorily stated, is said to have been greater than that of our troops, of whom fifty-three were returned as killed, thirtyfour wounded, and two hundred and seventv-nine prisoners or missing. Of the privates missing, the greater part were afterwards found to have deserted to the enemy. Among the lost of the French were