C. P. (Charles Patrick) Meehan.

The confederation of Kilkenny online

. (page 14 of 22)
Online LibraryC. P. (Charles Patrick) MeehanThe confederation of Kilkenny → online text (page 14 of 22)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

object -was to delude and deceive them. He was now
informed that the king: had placed himself in the hands
of the Scots at Newark, The intelligence reached him
about the 19th of May, and he dismissed the comtiiis-
sioners to the committee of instruction at LiraeriA^'k,
with assurances that they should, soon hear from him
by persons whom he would send to them fully autWo-
rised and instructed for that purpose. Thus, for the
present, was the publication of the peace postponed.

Ormond had played his part adroitly, and won hia
game. The king was now at the mercy of the Scots;
"they were the greatest opposers of the Irish peace,
having all along entertained hopes that Ireland should
be given up to them,"* and come vrhat might of the king,
Ormond had done nothing to compromise himself, with
his majesty's enemies. That the king was in reality
desirous of a peace, is evident from his letter of the 25th
of April, wherein he expressed the desire ; but if proof
were wanting, it is to be found in Clanricarde's commvi.
nication to Ormond, telling him that his excellency was
satisfied that such was his majesty's avowed wish.f
During these negotiations the nuncio was anxiously
awaiting the articles of the pontifical treaty, and had
to labour hard to convince the adhei-ents of Ormond
that it might be speedily expected. He sent to Rome
to remonstrate against the delay, and to his mortifica-
tion, was informed by the Cardinal Barberini, that Sir
K, Digby was at Paris with the queen, and that in the
event of concluding with her, he would proceed to Rome
instead of hastening to Ireland. J

It was now determined that the cessation should con-
tinue till June, and the nuncio, accompanied by some
members of the supreme council, proceeded to Limerick
about the middle of May.

The troops which were to have proceeded to England
under the command of Glamorgan, had been unsuccess-
fully employed to reduce Bunratty castle since ApriL

» Carte's Oi-mond, vol. iii.

t This lettei i: dated the 3rd of June following


He liad marched at the head of three thousand men
from Limerick to Six-mile Bridge, where he pitched hi«
camp, and proceeded to invest the fortress, which had
been garrisoned and provisioned by the parliament forces.
By a vigorous sally from the garrison, he was beaten off
and driven to the walls of Limerick, and then retired
on Clonmel. Rinuccini caused the Earl to be superseded
by Lord Muskerry, and accompanied the army in
a second assault on this stronghold, which, after a close
siege of twelve days, surrendered to the confederates.
This was his first essay in military tactics, and the
speedy reduction of the place was mainly attributable
to him. Immediately after the surrender of Bunratty
he caused the captured banners to be borne in triumph
to Limerick, and the effect produced by the display was
to exalt him in the esteem of the popular party.

Inchiquin, maddened by the advance of the confe-
derate army, was burning the crops and inflicting the
most heart-rending barbarities on the peasantry of Mun-
ster, and the supreme council solicited Castlehaven who
had been a spectator of the operations against Bunratty,
to take command of their cavalry and march against
him. He reluctantly accepted the command, for he was
not disposed to offend Ormond who was far from being
pleased with the success of the confederates, and he
proceeded to Cloghnoftye, " on the mountain that runs
oetween the counties of Cork and Limerick," and found
himself at the head of one thousand horse, Mac Thomas
was his second in command, and having divided their
whole force into squadrons, they hung on the flanks and
rear of Inchiquin, and finally prevented the destruc-
tion of the crops by compelling him to retire to his gar-
risons. *

Whilst the confederates were gaining these advantages
in the south. Sir Charles Coote was perpetrating the
most wanton barbarities in the west, and this notwith-
standing the cessation. It was in vain that Clanricarde
expostulated with Ormond, and required him to pro-
claim this sanguinary man, who under the title of lord
president of Connaught, was carrying death and havoc
throughout the province. But Ormond was in treaty

» Castlehaven's Mem. $6.


frith Coote, " in full assurance to make advantage of it,"*
and would neither proclaim the parliamentarian lord
president, nor march against his colleagues in Ulster.

Preston, who ha 1 consented to act under Clanricarde,
had entered the province at the head of about three
thousand men. He calculated on exciting the peasantry
against the Scotch, and recovering Siigo. But he did
not receive that cordial co-operation from Clanricarde
whicli he was led to expect, and the result of a month's
campaign was the capture of the Castles of Roscommon
and Clunibrun, which capitulated after he had cut to
ieces 350 of their horse. But if the confederates were
not crowned with success against Coote in Counaught,
and Inchiquin in the south, they had reason to congra-
tulate themselves on the victory which was won by
Owen Roe in Ulster. Brilliant as was the career of the
grand nephew of Hugh O'Neill on the continent, he
never did so highly distinguish himself as in that pro-
vince where his ancestors ruled as kings. Munroe had
been supplied with monies and ammunition by the par-
liament commissioners, and calculated on beating O'Neill's
army if it agam appeared in the field , but dreadful was
the retaliation which was in store for the Covenanter.

The main body of O'Neill's army had already assem-
bled on the confines of Leinster, and having heard that
Robert Munroe Avas marching into Tyrone, he resolved
to go in quest of him. Having given orders that each
soldier should carry with him provisions for sixteen days,
he commenced his march, and advanced sixty mi'^les
into the interior of Ulster. On the 2nd of June, Munroe,
informed of O'Neill's onward march, called a council of
war and determined "to make to the fields with a
month's provisions." *' This movement," says Munroe,
"was necessary for the preservation of our quarters."!
The Scotch general had ten regiments of infantry, and
fifteen companies of foot, followed by fifteen hundred
waggons containing ammunition, and baggage with six
fielding-pieces. Colonel Munroe was ordered to join the
general (Robert) at Glasslough with three troops of
horse, and 240 musquetiers, whilst Auchinbreck'6 troops
were to follow in the rear of his columns. The English

• Cttie's Orm. iii. 463. f Munroe's Deacatcli.


commissioners had engaged with the Scotch general to
send the Laggan forces into Connauglit to intercept an/
supplies which might be sent from that province to the
aid of the confederate troops, and maintain a commu-
nication with the Scots in Ulster. Having promised
to comply witli all the orders of the parliamentary com-
missioners, Munroe took leave of them on the ■second
night of his march near Dromore.

On the morning of the 4th of June, he ordered se^
venty-two horsemen, under the command of his lieute-
nant, Daniel, to cross the Blackwater at Beinburb and
scour the fields, and certify Colonel Munroe that he
would fix his head-quarters -at Glasslough. On the 5th
of June, this body of cavalry fell in with a party of
O'Neill's skirmishers, and took a prisoner near Armagh,
from whom they learned that the confederate general
had encamped the night before at Glasslough, and was
marching in full force with an army of 5,000 foot and
twelve troops of horse, to take up a position at Bein-
burb and Charlemont. Being thus informed, Munroe
broke up his camp, and marched six miles further, to
make a junction with Hamilton's troops, which were
encamped four miles from Armagh, and at the same
time ordered messengers to recall the cavalry, which he
had sent to advertise Colonel Munroe of his movements.

Meanwhile O'Neill had encamped at Beinburb, be-
tween two small hills. The rear of his army was pro-
tected by a wood, and the right by the river Blackwater.
He had also possessed himself of the bridge, and con-
cealed his sharpshooters in the " scrogs and bushes."*
Owen Roe was well informed of Munroe's plans ; and in
order to prevent a junction of George's forces with those
of his brother, he despatched Colonels Bernard Mac Ma-
hon and Patrick Mac Neny, with their respective regi-
ments, to anticipate their design. This commission they
executed to the satisfaction of their commander. But
now, when everything that the ablest general of his day
could devise to insure a glorious result had been carried
into effect, there was a scene on the hill of Beinburb
solemn and stern — " The whole army, after having con
fessed, and the general, along with the other officers,

• Miinroe'a Derpatch, in the Thorpe Parera, R.D.S.


Having received the most holy communion, tlie cliap*
Inin, deputed by the nuncio to the spiritual care of the
army, made a brief exhortation, gave them his bless^
ing, and, \^'ith loud cheers, they prepared for action."*

Munroe, having reconnoitred O'Keill's position, and
seeing that lie could not force the bridge or ford, con-
vened his officers, to consult on what course they should
adopt ; -whereon it was resolved to march in view of
the confederate troops, and pass the Blackwater at Kin-
ard. As they advanced they were met by Colonel
Eichard O'Ferral, who occupied a narrow defile through
which it was necessary for the Scotch troops to pass in
order to face the Irish, The fire of Munroe's gui* com-
pelled O'Neill's ofiicer to retire. And now the two
armies stood front to front ; and never did two hostik
hosts meet with more enthusiastic rivalry or deadly ha-
tred. The Scots, impelled by gloomy fanaticism, beheld
an army of idolaters before them — the Philistines, whom
the power of Gideon was to overthrow. The confede-
rates, animated by the love of country and their reli-
gion, and led by a chieftain whose name was a spell-
word in their ranks, looked on the present as the mo-
ment to rescue their homes and altars from thraldom
and disgrace. "All our army, horse and foot," says
the Scotch general, "did earnestly covet fighting, which
was impossible for me to gainstand without reproach of
cowardice, and never did I see a greater confidence than
was amongst us."

Lieutenant-Colonel Cunningham having cleared the
pass for the Scotch horse, who were commanded by the
Lord Viscount of Ardes, in the absence of Colonel
Munroe, the whole army advanced to dislodge Owen
Roe; but a shower of bullets from the " scrogs and
bushes," which coA'ered O'Neill's infantry, checked them;
and then the Scotch cannon opened its fire with little
effect, as owing to the admirable position of the Catholic
troops only one man was struck by the shot. In vain
did Munroe's cavalry charge — with the river on their
right and " a marish bog" on the left, it was hopeless to
think of stirring the confederates. For fully four hours
did the Fabius of his country amuse the enemy with

* BinQccinL


skirmishing. During all that time, the wind rolling the
smoke of Munroe's musketry and cannon in tlie face of
the Irish ranks, concealed the adverse lines from their
sight, and the sun had shone all day in their eyes, blind-
ing them with its dazzling glare ; but that sun was now
descending and producing the same effect on the Scotch,
when Munroe perceived the entire of the Irish army
making ready for a general assault with horse and foot.

It was the decisive moment. The Irish general,
throwing himself into the midst of his men, and point-
ing out to them that retreat must be fatal to the enemy,
ordered them to pursue vigorously, assuring them of
victory. "I myself," said he, "with the aid of hea-
ven, will lead the way : let those who fail to follow me
remember that they abandon their general." This ad-
dress was received with one unanimous shout by the
army. The colonels threw themselves from their
horses, to cut themselves off from every chance of re-
treat, and "charged with incredible impetuosity."*

Munroe had given orders to a squadron of his horse to
break through the columns of the Irish foot as they ad-
vanced ; but that squadron was panic-stricken by the ter-
rible array of the Irish battalions, and retreated disorderly
through their own foot, pursued by O'Neill's cavah-y.
Nevertheless Munroe's infantry stood firm, and ''received
the Irish, body to body, with push of pike," f till at
last their cavalry reserve, being routed in a second
charge, fell, pell mell, amongst his infantry, which, being
now broken and disordered, had no way to retreat but
over the river which lay in their front.

Terrified by the fate of their fellows, who perished
under their eyes in the Blackwater, the surviving Scots
vainly sought to conceal themselves in the thickets that
covered the country in the vicinity of the battle-field ;
nor was the darkness of the night able to protect them
from their victorious pursuers. Pike and skein did
what the musket had left unfinished, till they were cut
to pieces, and the lowest soldier of the Irish was wearied
with carnage, and oppressed with plunder. Three
thousand two himdred and forty-three bodies were
counted on the field ; the infantry was completely cut

♦ Munroe's Despatch. * Kinucciai.


off by the straggling parties on the two following days ;
and very few of the cavalry escaped. AH the giins
Were taken by the Irish, together with the tents,
colours, baggage, and fifteen hundred draught horses.
Amongst the slain was found the body of Lord Blauey.
The Lord Viscount Ardes was made prisoner. INIunroe
fled to Lisnegarvy, leaving his cloak and wig on the
field, and twenty-one officers in the hands of O'Neill's
army. Of the Irish troops only seventy were slain in
the action, and one hundred wounded, amongst whom
was a distinguished gentleman of Ulster, who served as
a volunteer. The victorious army proclaimed that their
success was attributable to the supplies given them by
the Pope; and SirPhelim O'Neill, on being asked for the
list of his prisoners, swore that he had not even one, as
he had given orders to his division to give no quarter
to the Scotch. *

The news of Owen Eoe's victory did not reach Lime-
rick till the 13th of June. Father Hartegan, one of the
priests deputed to the spiritual care of the army, was
the bearer of the joyful intelligence.

On the following day (Sunday) at four o'clock, a.m.
all the troops in garrison at Limerick assembled before
the church of St. Francis, where the nuncio had
deposited thirty-two standards taken by the Irish
general from the Scotch. These trophies were then
borne in solemn procession by the chiefs of the nobility,
followed by the nuncio, the Archbishop of Cashel, and
the bishops of Limerick, Clonfert, and Ardfert. After
these came the supreme council, the mayor, and the
magistrates, with the entire population of the city. The
procession moved on till it reached St. Mary's cathedral,
where the Te Deum was chanted, and on the next day
a mass of thanksgiving was offered to the Lord, " Who
fought among the valiant ones, and overthrew the
nations that were assembled against them, to destroy
the sanctuary. "f

Thus, while the Irish attributed the winning of that
day to the interposition of heaven, the Scotch general,
writing from Carrickfergus, on the 11th of June, to the
parliament commissioners, ascribed his defeat to the

• EinucciJjl. 138, 13S. t Fi-'e Ep. Inn. P. in Bib. Dom.


anger of " the Lord of hosts, who had a controversy with
them, to rub shame on their faces till once they should be
humbled ; for it behooved them to taste of bitterness, as
well as others of both nations."* Yet, it does not appear
that O'Neill made that use of his victory which he might
had he commanded an army as disciplined as his people
were brave. Instead of pursuing Munroe he allowed him
to fortify himself in Carrickfergus, whence he wrote to
London for supplies, *' Now that they were humbled be-
fore God, and increased in courage and resolution, and that
the enemy had not prosecuted their victory within the
Scotch quarters, being more inclined to spoil than pursue
them." His appeal was soon responded to by the parlia-
ment, and a paper was printed, and posted in the streets
of London, giving an account of " the bloody fight at
Blackwater, on the 5th of June, by the Irish rebels against
Major-General MunrOe, where 5,000 Protestants were put
to the sword. "f O'Neill's army now increased to upwards
of 10,000 men, as he found on the field, arms and am-
munion sufficielit to equip the new levies that flocked to
him from all quarters. Rinuccini sent to congratulate
him on his victory, and transmitted decorations for his
officers, and surgeons to take charge of the wounded.
On the return of his messengers he was somewhat sur-
prised to learn that O'Neill had determined to call
his troops the "Catholic Army," and emblazon the
cross and keys on the banners of the red hand." It
was an ill-timed testimony of his homage to the church,
for, it was calculated to create division between him-
self and Preston, whenever their mutual co-operation
might be required. But the phlegmatic disposition of the
Ulster general could ill brook contradiction. Yet, if
the victory at Beinbui-b had not all the fruits which
might have been reaped from that bloody harvest, it
secured the existence of the confederates.^ On the

* Munroe's Dispatch,

t This document, printed by Jane Coe, London, June isth, gives
the following list : — " Taken, seven pieces of ordnance, 5,000 armes.
4,000 foot, and upwards, killed, taken, and routed, 600 horse routed.
Lord Blaney taken, and dead ; Lord Montgomerj' and Lord Ardes
taken and dead, and almost all the officers."

t Nunziatura in Irlanda, p. 138.



person of Lord Montgomery was found the order of
inarch, and he himself declared that it was the inten-
tion of Munroe to penetrate to Kilkenny whilst the
confederates were en>ployed elsewhere, and make him-
self master of that city ; nor is it at all unlikely that
Ormond was privy to the design.

On the 2nd of June, whilst the nuncio was pressing
the siege of Bunratty, Sir George Hamilton and Colonel
Barry were sent by the lord lieutenant to Limerick, to
acquaint the confederate council that he was well
aware of the necessity of a union against the common
enemy, but that he could not join with any party not
deriving authority from his majesty; nor could any-
thing further be done towards a union till the articles
of peace were published, about which he had not, as
yet, received his majesty's pleasure. With regard to
Glamorgan's articles, he could not, either witli safety
to his conscience or honour, admit the publishing thereof,
*' his majesty having already publicly disavowed any
power given by him to warrant them ;" for which
reason he expected from them a declaration of their
iftsolution not to publish them.

It was now obvious that Muskerry and his party were
flxious to publish the political articles concluded on the
SSth March, and, if possible, to publish at the same time
the articles of Glamorgan's treaty ; but, when Nicholas
Plunket and Brown presented themselves to Rinuccini
to notify him of their intention of proceeding to Dublin
for that purpose, he prodvijcd the protest of the nine
bishops against any conclusion with Ormond which
did not stipulate the free exercise of religion, and the
retention of all the churches, which, up to the present
moment, were in the hands of the confederates. The
production of this protest, as it was signed without the
knowledge of the lay members of the assembly, alarmed
and confounded the commissioners. They urged that
Glamorgan's articles were sufficient to satisfy the clergy,
and that they would insist on the publication of them.
Rinuccini scouted the idea, pointing to the king's dis-
avowal of the Earl, and then warmly inveighed against
the folly of committing themselves, soul and body, to
Ormond, at a moment when they stood in the attitude


of armed men, who should enforce their rights instead
of craidng favours.

- When the confederate commissioners received this an-
swer, they communicated witli the council, who imme-
diately sent eight of their body, and the secretary, Bel-
ling, to induce the nuncio to consent to the publication
of the political treaty. The grand argument adduced
for the purpose was, that the king, as he was now in the
hands of the Scotch, would be induced to make war on
Ireland, than which nothing was more desired by the
parliament. They sought, moreover, to convince him
that the publication of the political articles should be re-
garded as a means to an end, rather than a definitive
agreement with the lord lieutenant ; and that they them-
selves would be ready to take arms agahist Ormond, if,
in progress of time, he did not cede all the advantages
which they contemplated for religion.

But these arguments were unavailing. The nuncio
was unbending. In a spirit which had something pro-
phetic in it, he implored them not to rely on the pro-
mises of Ormond or the sovereign of England. He ap-
pealed to the history of the past, and dwelt at length on
the tyranny and oppression exercised by the English in
Ireland, and chided the pusillanimity of the men who
were intent on signing an instrument which doomed them
to dependence on the pleasure of a treacherous and faith-
breaking monarch. Glamorgan was present on this oc-
casion, and laboured to refute a singular argument ad-
vanced by the confederate commissioners, who asserted
that tlie laws of England did not permit the monarch to
revoke the concessions which he had once made in favor
of the Catholics.*

But the earl put an end to the discussion by declaring
tliat he would no longer insist on the publication of his
own treaty, until he had received further powers from
tlie king.

Nevertheless, the supreme council determined to pub-
lish tlie articles of Ormond's peace, and, to gratify the
lord lieutenant, agreed to omit all mention of Glamor-
gan's concessions. These instructions were signed ''-:i

» RlnacclnJ, 142


the 12th of June, and Sir Nicholas Plunket and Mr.
Brown were deputed to proceed forthwith to Dublin.
Before leaving Limerick they waited on the nuncio,
who, when informed of their intention, received them
coldly, and inveighed bitterly against a proceeding which
Avas meant to put Ormond in possession of all the garri-
sons and strongholds belonging to the confederates, and
thus compromise their own existence. His words had
such eflfect on Plunket that he took ill, and Brown was
obliged to go without him. When he arrived in Dublin
he was mortified to learn from Ormond that, by a letter
from Newcastle, his majesty had ordered him '♦ to pro-
ceed no further in the treaty of peace, nor to engage him
ipon conditions with the Irish after sight of those or-
ders." This letter was sent through the English com-
mittee of Ulster to Ormond, on the 26th of June, and
Brown at once returned to Limerick to receive further
instructions. Alas ! it is pitiful to reflect on the tem-
porising and vacillating conduct of the Catholics of the
Pale at this moment. With three armies in the field,
and the people roused to enthusiasm, snch as had never
been witnessed, they wasted, in intrigue and diplomacy,
more time than was sufficient to raise themselves to a
position of independence.

Whilst the voUied thunders of Beinburb were still
pealing in their ears, they were clamorous for Ormond's
hollow peace. Apprehensive of losing the church pro-
property, of which many of them were proprietors,
they were now jealous and distrustful of the clergy,
although the nuncio was empowered to confirm the
transfers, as Cardinal Pole had done in the reign of Mary.
O'Neill's victory served to embitter their inveterate and
deep-rooted hatred of the Ulster Irish. They were
well aware that no provision had been made for ' ' the
men of the north," and that they would never consent
to lay down their arms till restored to their plundered

These considerations determined Muskerry and
Mountgarret and the rest to place all their hopes in
Ormond, who would secure them in the possession of
their estates, and connive at the toleration of the Ca-
tholic religion. They were satisfied to live in fetters,

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 14 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Online LibraryC. P. (Charles Patrick) MeehanThe confederation of Kilkenny → online text (page 14 of 22)