1641After the commotions betwixt England and Scotland, about the beginning of October, Sir Phelim O'Neill, Sir Con Magenis, colonel Brien, colonel Butler, with several others of the nation, had several regiments of foot ready to march for Catalonia, with the king's permission, the Spanish ambassador having prevailed then with his majesty to send over such levy's of the Irish, when a noise came amongst the Roman catholicks of Ulster (confirmed soon after by a letter intercepted from Scotland, to one Freeman of Antrim) that a puritan army was ready to come for Ireland, under the command of general Leslie, to suppress and extirpate the Roman catholicks of Ulster from amongst the Scotch; and to that end a private declaration passed in their private meetings or council, to lay heavy
p.197fines on such of them as would not appear at their kirk the first and second Sundays, and the third Sunday to hang (without mercy) at their own doors, as many as would prove obstinate; which rigid and inhuman way of reforming, struck such a terror in the minds of the people, that every one thought of his own safety, or some general method of defence against so great a danger. Whereupon a convocation of the prime gentlemen of the province met, and communicated their thoughts and apprehensions to each other, and to some gentlemen in Leinster, who joining their heads together, resolved to send immediately an express by one abbot Conally, abbot of Clunes, to Owen O'Neill, and other Irish officers in Flanders, to acquaint them of the present state of the kingdom, and how the Roman catholicks were threatened by the Scotch puritans and English presbyterians, and that they would, for their own present safety, endeavour to secure as many magazined forts and garrisons in the north as possible, &c. In order to which, on the twenty-second of October, 1641, Sir Phelim O'Neill surprised Charlemont, and Sir Con Magenis the Newry and other places; and at the same time gentlemen employed on the same design to Dublin, being discovered, took no effect.
Soon after this, the Scots in the North began their bloody massacres in the counties of Downe and Antrim, at Island Magee, Ballydavy, Clonleck, Cumber, Gallagh, and Magheravorn, 500 poor souls destroyed without regard to age or sex, and that before one drop of blood was spilt by any Roman catholick; though afterwards, when these unparalleled murthers were known, some of the loosest of the Irish rabble, being exasperated thereat, did, by way of retaliation, murther some British at Portadown, Clancan, Curbridge and Belturbet.
Sir Phelim Neill being at this time the most considerable person of his name in Ulster, was chosen commander in chief; after which time not many acts of hostility passed on either side, to the landing of Owen O'Neill in July, 1642, except when Sir Phelim O'Neill went to besiege Drogheda. The O'Reillys and Mc Mahons fell on major Meredith, as he was coming to relieve Drogheda with five hundred men, who were cut off to a few. Sir Phelim, after being forced to withdraw his men from Drogheda, besieged Lisnagarvy (now called Lisburn) in the county of Antrim, which he was likewise forced to quit, by Sir Arthur Terringham and major Rawdon, who made a vigorous defence. Some time in this interval Sir Phelim was routed at Glanmaquin, (on a winter frosty morning) in the county of Donegall, where Alexander M'Colle, his brother Engus, and Nectan O'Donnell, Fitz Cathbarr, Fitz Hugh Oge, Fitz Hugh Duff were wounded, Sir Phelim and Alexander M'Colle being ill provided for any action. And about the same time Phelim M'Tuoll O'Neill and M'Artan, with other gentlemen of the county of Downe, did rout a great body of the Scotch at Deirendreait in the same county, where the Scotch left three hundred behind them dead on the spot, and but very few of the Irish lost, being the most considerable loss the British had that year.
In March the same year, major general Monro (under general Leslie) was commanded out of Scotland with ten thousand men, landed at Carrickfergus, where the British of the counties of Downe and Antrim came into to him, and after a short stay marched with his whole army to Newry, which was surrendered upon the first summons (by a fresh-water governor) upon mercy, which proved so
p.198merciless, that a great many of the clergy and laity were hanged, killed and drowned about the bridge of the town. From Newry he returned back to his quarters, after preying the upper parts of the countys of Downe and Ardmagh. about the beginning of June after, he marcht to Charlemont, Neill Modera Neill being governor there from Sir Phelim, who defended it vigorously, all the store of ammunition found at Newry and other places, being spent at this seige and elsewhere, to a small quantity, and having no supply nearer them than Limerick, dispatcht a party thither with five hundred pounds, and with much ado could find but two firkins of powder, and forced to pay ten shillings for each pound. Munro having raised his seige at this time, in July following, 1642, he summoned all the British forces in Ulster, in order to overrun the whole Province: The rumour of such great preparations being spread every where, the chief gentlemen of the Ulster Irish assembled at Glaslaugh in the county of Monaghan, where they concluded that every one should shift for himself, since they were in no posture of defence; some intending for France, some for Spain, Flanders, &c. others for the Highlands, and the most remote places within the kingdom. Amidst these sad resolutions an express arrived from general O'Neill from Castledo, directed to Sir Phelim O'Neill, of his safe arrivall with ammunition, arms, and a few Low-country officers and soldiers of his own regiment; and moreover, that he directed a frigate (the St. Frances) to land at Wexford with more ammunition, &c. which accordingly came in safe soon after, and withal prayed Sir Phelim and the rest of the Ulster gentlemen, to repair forthwith to him at Castledo, in order to bring him off, which was chearfully performed by the chiefe men, and fifteen hundred choice soldiers to accompany him through the most secure ways, which was accordingly done by Ballyshanny side (without any great interruption 'till they came to Charlemont, where he was no sooner arrived, but Munro had notice by the shooting of the artillery from the Fort, whereupon he immediately ordered his army to march out of the county of Ardmagh, where they were come but a little before to harrass the whole county) and to make towards the county of Antrim to meet general Leslie, newly landed from Scotland with more men to join him; from whence they both marcht soon over the lower Bann-water to the county of Derry (where Donnell Gevlagh O'Cahane gave them some diversion in their passage with a small party). Leslie no sooner came to Tyrone, but sends O'Neill a letter importing, that he was sorry a man of his experience and reputation abroad should come to Ireland to second so bad a cause, and advised him to return from whence he came. O'Neill answered, he had more reason to come to relieve the deplorable state of his country, than he had to march in the head of an army to England against his king, to force him to give unreasonable conditions to himself and his countrymen, at a time when all Scotland was their own. During general Leslie's short stay this time near O'Neill, he attempted nothing, but marched back to his Claneboys, where he left Munro with the army, and himself gone for Scotland. At his parting he told Munro, that if O'Neill but once got an army together, that he believed he would worst him. O'Neill, at this time, trusting to five or six hundred men only to attend his person, and the garrison in Charlemont, the rest of the gentlemen being persuaded before to attend their several interests, in order to
p.199defend them the best they could from the incursions of the enemy, to wit, each county to defend themselves. In November following, the supreme council sent for O'Neill, and made him general and general governor of Ulster, and of the two thousand arms sent over by the Pope, gave him five hundred, which were brought to Ulster about the latter end of January following; from which time no action of note happened, only slight skirmishes by parties sent to the counties of Downe and Antrim, 'till May 1643. The March before, Henry Roe O'Neill and colonel Richard Ferrall landed at Wexford out of Flanders, with some few officers only, and arms for one troop of horse.
In May, 1643, Sir Robert Stewart of Culmore, with those of Leggan and Inniskillin, came to the borders of the county of Monaghan, preyed the country, took Ma-Kana's wife of Treucha away, and killed Daniel Gevlah O'Cahane, then lieutenant general.
In the spring before, Munro lost no time in gathering as many of the British as he could, and modelling of them with his own army, with resolution to subdue the whole Province in a trice; which he attempted in May 1643, as covertly by night as possible, 'till he reached Ardmagh with his whole army undiscovered, 'till the general himself, as he was hunting abroad, discovered them within two miles of him then, and four of his quarters at Anaghsawry, where they thought to surprise both him and his guards within a mile of Charlemont; but finding him nearer, unexpectedly fell upon him, accompanied with a few of his guards only, and some gentlemen, and chased him close to his quarters at Anaghsawry, where with his small party he received the enemy with so much bravery and experience of a knowing soldier, that he brought off himself and his party of four hundred men, without the loss of a man, from Munro's whole army (after a full hour's dispute in a lane leading to Charlemont, enclosed with quicksets, which favoured much the retreat) and where Munro himself was forced to quit his horse and take a pike, upon major Ballentine's being killed, and the horse giving way, and where he was heard to say (crying aloud to his men) Fay, fay, run awa frae awheen rebels. Munro being vexed at this disappointment, took up that night all the secure passes leading from Charlemont, with intent to prey next morning the whole country, especially near Charlemont. But lieutenant colonel Sandford, was sent the same night with a round party, who killed the next day a hundred of their men, and obliged them to quit the preys, and withdraw towards their quarters without doing much harm, only burning an Englishman's house where the general quartered. Munro, the same summer, made a second attempt in like manner by night to Ardmagh to beat up O'Neill's quarters again, which frequent incursions made O'Neill quit Charlemont and the whole province, and withdraw himself to the counties of Longford and Leitrim, 'till he had got an army together to enable him to meet the enemy in the field in his way. In July 1643, marching with what men and creaghts he had, through the county of Monaghan, Sir William Stewart and Sir Robert Stewart, with those of Leggan and Inniskillen, to the number of three thousand horse and foot, appeared at Clouness, within three miles of O'Neill, to intercept him in his way (the Fermanagh gentlemen and spies who were intrusted to watch the enemy's motions that side, having given no
p.200timely notice of their approaching.) At this time O'Neill had not above one O'Neill's thousand six hundred men fit for any service, and many of them dispersed amongst the creaghts; but what of them were to the fore, were drawn up upon the enemy's moving towards them, the foot placed at a pass, the general himself with what horse (being only a couple of new-raised troops and some gentlemen) made forwards to take a view of the enemy's strength, and before they could well retire, the enemy charged them in the rear (almost mad drunk with usquebaugh) crying aloud, Whar's Me Art! Whar's Me Art! (meaning the general) when one captain Stewart, with that hussa in his mouth, came up before the general, as he was entering on a narrow causeway, where O'Neill himself shot him off his horse, but he lived, and was afterwards rewarded with one hundred pounds by my lord of Ormond for his singular and desperate onset this day on O'Neill's person, who was in danger of being lost, with all his men, by lieutenant colonel Shane Mc Brian Luny Neill's quitting the pass, where he was posted with the foot before to second the horse, where he heard they were engaged (an argument rather of his courage than good conduct) for which error he fell ever after into the general's ill opinion. In this action, which continued more than a full hour, the Irish lost about one hundred and fifty men, amongst whom colonel Oge O'Neill (Daniel's brother) was murthered by a presbyterian minister, after quarters given. Major Maurice O'Hagan killed, with captain Ardall Hanlon, and several other officers; (colonel Hugh Duff O'Neill and Art O'Neill Mc Hugh Boy, taken prisoners) the general himself pursued back to Charlemont, where he staid but three days, when he began his intended journey again to the counties of Longford and Leitrim. The enemy (having preyed the country) retired back to Donegall and Fermanagh. As soon as O'Neill came to Mohill in the county of Leitrim, he writ to the supreme council, who sent him a few arms and ammunition; and from Mohill removed to the county of Roscommon, and took up his own quarters at Killmore, and encamped his small army at Sheebrunagh, where they continued but three days, when a letter came from captain King from Abbyboyle to O'Neill, that since he understood that O'Neill issued out his commissions in the king's name, he knew no reason why they should not join their men together: upon which Neill sent to the camp at Shee to double their guards, and to be vigilant 'till he had suggested what answer to return to King, or know more of his principles. In the mean while, captain King got all the English in the county of Roscommon together, at break of day, and fell in with the camp at Shee, which lay in disorder, as well as the guards, occasioned by a quantity of strong-waters brought them the evening before by some Irish sutlers out of the English garrisons adjoining, and routed them, with the loss of one hundred and sixty men killed and wounded, Hugh MacGwire, (Cuconaght More's father,) taken prisoner; the captain of the guard for his neglect, was condemned and executed. This accident fell out in August, 1643. Immediately after O'Neill marched back to Mohill and to Cloncork in the county of Leitrim, (bordering on the county of Cavan,) where the supreme council writ to him, desiring him to make up, out of hand, as many of the Ulster men as he could, and to march with them to join Sir James Dillon and the Meathians; whereupon he removed to Brush-hill, and summoned all the Ulster gentlemen, who in a short
p.201space made up three thousand men effectual, (besides colonel Richard O'Ferrall's regiment of foot,) with whom he marched to Clonebreney, and besieged it, with the help of one gun brought him by Sir James Dillon; the place soon surrendered by one Smith, on terms to march out with armes and luggage. Other inconsiderable holds were reduced off-hand in those parts, and so to Ballybeg, where major Cordogan commanded, who after summons sent his resolution of maintaining the place to the last. Upon which answer the gun was planted, and after two or three shotts, without any further ceremony, Cordogan himself slips out alone, and makes towards the general. The guards would have shott at him, but being espied by the general himself, commanded no body should touch him: and notwithstanding the Leinster gentlemen represented him as a very ill man, and deserving death, yet he told them, he would let him live longer, to become better, on the account of mercy, and spared Sir Harry's Tichbourn's son also, being both kept prisoners, but dismissed the garrison without their arms. About this time some commissioners chosen by my lord of Ormond, and others by the supream council, met at Harristowne in the county of Kildare, and there concluded a cessation of arms for a twelve month; whereupon orders were issued to all commanders of armies to cease all acts of hostility. But my lord Moore would hearken to no such declaration, 'till he had first tryed the mettle of Owen Roe and his Ulster creaghts: of which expression O'Neill being informed, ordered his army and creaghts to move towards Port Leister ford, where the army encamped, and a party detached out immediately for another gun to Tychrochan, which no sooner arrived, but both guns were planted against an old castle on the river near the camp, where some of my lord Moore's men were lodged, and after several shots made to little effect, the general, not pleased with the gunner, alighted off his horse, and ordered the guns to be planted otherwise, and after a few shotts, the men stole out by a private sally-port, and gott over the river to their own party. At the same time notice came to the general, that my lord Moore was marching with his army from Athboy towards him; whereupon he ordered the guns to be removed to the camp, and to plant them at the ford, over which he passed himself with a squadron of horse, 'till he came to an old millstead, called the Red Railes Mill, a good distance from the ford, the enemie's side, where he ordered a captain of the Magenesses with sixty men to be placed, and some pioneers to throw up some breast-work about the mill-door, which proved of good consequence afterwards, himself marching forwards to the top of a hill over the mill, to take a view of the enemy, which were marching up the other side of the hill in battle array, which made the general retire leisurely, and in the rear maintain a handsom play with the enemy's advanced guards, who pursued him close to the mill, where they were received with a warm salutation by the party in the mill, and a troop of dragoons lineing a ditch near it, who were all cut off to six men before they could be brought off. The sixty men in the mill bore the brunt of the whole day's action, by bravely opposing frequent attacks without intermission, or any personal reliefe, but what our great shott did by often clearing both sides of the mill effectually. Owen O'Dogherty brought the mill at length a supply of ammunition, for which signal service he was made major next day to Henry Roe O'Neill's regiment of horse, consisting of three or four troops only. On both sides the main
p.202ford partys were disputing private passes, without much harm, or any great loss on either side, except the lord Moore himself, who was taken out of his saddle by the middle by one of the great balls, which was shott at a body of horse drawn up at a great distance on a height over the mill, of which loss the Irish knew nothing, 'till a deserter the next morning assured them both of that, and of the enemies having withdrawn in the night towards Athboy; upon which occasion the following verse was composed:
- Contra Romanes mores, res mira, dynasta
Morus, ab Eugenio, canonisatus erat.
Within three days after Castlehaven came to the camp, and gott the cessation proclaimed, upon which the Ulster army marched to the North, every one to his own country to quarter his men. O'Neill took up his quarters again at Anagh Saury, the English quartering in the counties of Down and Antrim (except Sir John Clothworthy and the presbiterians) submitted to the cessation. But Munroe nor the Scotch would not, alleadging, the council of Scotland sent them such instructions.
In November 1643, general O'Neill was sent for to Waterford by a general assembly of the confederates, where it was ordered that Castlehaven should march to the north with six thousand men (the following season) at the cost of the other three provinces, and join O'Neill against the Scotch puritans. In this assembly a person of quallity moved (and it passed unanimously in the house) that some of the king's forts should be engaged to some state or potentate abroad, for a sum of money to carry on the war, 'till general O'Neill opposed it in a speech, wherein he laid open the danger and ill consequence it might produce to the king and nation, to give any foreigner an interest in the kingdom; and withall said, they were no mercenary soldiers, but natives of the kingdom, that might, without any extraordinary expence, agree well with such cloathing and diett as the country itselfe could afford, &c. After a short stay here, O'Neill returns to Ulster; and in March following, 1644, captain Chichester, governor of Belfast, and Theophilus Jones, governor of Lisburn, writt to general O'Neill, that Munro possessed himself of Belfast, and was resolved to offer the like to Lisburn; and desired O'Neill to send them some ammunition for their supply, which he willingly granted: but soon after he was forced (by the growing power of the Scotch) to quit Ulster again, and march with his army and creaghts to the countys of Meath, Longford, Leitrim, and Cavan.
In May, 1644, Castlehaven was making all the preparation possible to gett his six thousand ready; and likewise O'Neill loseing no endeavours of his part, and hearing of Castlehaven and his army to set out, went the length of Portleistor to meet and receive him. In the mean time Munro was on his march with a great army of twelve thousand men, composed of English and Scotch, and never stopt 'till he came the length of Granard, where he made no stay, but forced his passage over Fena into Leinster, with resolution to fall on O'Neill and his party; but hearing Castlehaven and he joined, stopped Carlonstown, burning it, returned in all haste back to the North, about the latter end of July, 1644. As soon as
p.203O'Neill and Castlehaven had modelled their own armys together, they likewise marcht to Charlemont, where they were supplyed with provisions from Newry, Dundalke and Drogheda. The only towns that observed the cessation that side of the kingdom. What supply the creaghts could afford the other side, was not wanting, during the camp's stay at Charlemont; from whence they marched to Tonregee, about the beginning of September, 1644, where they raised a fort to secure their magazine, and soon after Castlehaven marched into the enemie's quarters with a body of two thousand foot and five hundred horse; colonel Myles Ryley and colonel Bryan Roe O'Neill, with squadrons of their own horse, appointed to wait of Castlehaven in this expedition (where no great service was performed, only captain Blair taken prisoner, and a hundred of his men killed near Dromore). Upon the alarum, several squadrons of the horse advanced from Munro's camp, who forced Castlehaven to retire back to Tonregee, wanting his foot, misled the night before, and not able to come up timely to the horse, who performed what service was done. Soon after this, Munro, with his whole army of thirteen thousand Brittish, marched to Ardmagh. Upon notice of their coming, the Irish army removed to the very gate of Charlemont, and the creaghts removed to the remotest parts of the countys of Monaghan, Cavan, and Tyrone, which was a great want in maintaining the army, since the supplys from Newry, Dundalke and Drogheda, were stopt by the enemie's encamping at Ardmagh. During the stay of both armies so neare one another for five or six weeks, no actione of note happened, except what passed betwixt out-guards and scouts; onely three troops of horse commanded to a pass on the Black-water, between Benborbe and Kinard, to keep the enemy from spoyling the country on Dungannon side, were beaten off, with the loss of some men; captain Charles Hovendon killed, captain Con Baccagh O'Neill wounded and taken prisoner, and captain Art oge O'Neill killed before the face of lieutenant colonel Fennell, and a strong squadron of horse under his command, who flatly denyd to relieve those prime officers and gentlemen of Ulster, which disgusted O'Neill very much in his sickness, which kept him for many days before from negotiating any affairs relating to the army. The Irish army at length being distressed for want of provision, were forced to decamp (leaving captain White governor in Charlemont) and marched bag and baggage, after making a shew the evening before (by making of cashes and tochers over a bog leading to the enemies camp) of a resolution to fight them the next day. O'Neill beginning to mend of his distemper, tooke up his quarters att Ballahaise in the county of Cavan, and Castlehaven took up his within two miles of him, from whence he writt to O'Neill, praying him (if his health would permit) to come to see him. The messenger who brought the letter, perceiving somehow by Castlehaven or his officers, that they were resolved to lay the whole blame of their ill success in the North on O'Neill, gave him a caveat of it, which made the bishop of Clogher, and other of his friends, to mind him of a strong guard to attend his person, but he said he valued them not, nor their ill suggestions, and went only with his secretary and a few attendants, to see Castlehaven, who put to him, how they could excuse themselves for not performing some signall service or exploit in the enemy's country. O'Neill replied, as infirm as he was, his best advice was not wanting to his lordship. Castlehaven said, his
p.204officers were much concerned, that O'Neill and his officers called them cowards. I must confess, says O'Neill, I did say so to a gentleman here, lieutenant colonel Fennell, with the feather, a cowardly cock, for seeing my kinsmen overpowered by the enemy, some of them hacked before his face, and a strong brigade of horse under his command, and never offered to relieve them; and in a little heat said, My lord, we need not discourse any more on this subject, 'till we both appear before the supream council that employed us both. So they parted, Castlehaven marching towards the West, O'Neill staying about Cavan a fortnight longer, from whence he marched to the King's County with his own guards, and a few beeves to subsist them. The winter following he went to the assembly at Kilkenny, to whom he moved, that he understood that Castlehaven and his officers would lay the blame at his door, for performing no considerable service in their expedition to the North. And since forreigne residents were in town, in his opinion, if the general assembly, on examining matters of fact, did not find one of them deserving to lose his head, he presumed the world abroad would think the assembly and nation very inconsiderable, and not fitt to be corresponded with, whereupon the assembly appointed a committee to examine the whole matter, which accordingly was done, but no report made to this hour.
1645. No action this year, only orders from the supreme council to O'Neill for levying a sum of money on the creaghts and Irish inhabitants of Ulster, in order to which O'Neill repaired to Carrickmacross, in the upper part of the county of Monaghan, from whence he removed to Belturbet, where he resided 'till the nuntio came to Kilkenny.
1646. O'Neill in the spring waited on the nuntio at Kilkenny, where the supreme council gave him a new power to levy a new army of northern men, which he compleated in May following five thousand men strong, of which five hundred horse, such as they were; with whom he marched to Benborbe, where the 4th June, notice was brought of Monro's marching with six thousand foot in nine battalions, and eight hundred horse well accoutred, and encamped at the old place near Ardmagh, and within seven miles of O'Neill's camp. Next day, being the fifth, the scouts came in with news that the enemy was marching westward from Ardmagh towards Glasslagh, and at the same time that Colonel George Monro marched with a party of five hundred foot from Coleraine to Dungannon, within seven miles of Benborbe, the other side; whereupon O'Neill marched, with all his horse, to the top of the hill, (where the battle was fought the same afternoon) to take a view of the enemy in their march, as they passed the road the other side of the river towards Glasslagh (the place appointed for the Legannurs and those of Coleraine to join the main body). Neill having taken a full view of the enemy, and which way they were leading, commanded most of his horse to march towards Dungannon, with design to cutt off (if possible) George Munroe's five hundred foot in their march to Glasslagh, whilst himself stay'd with the remainder of the horse to attend the enemie's further march. The party at Dungannon observing the Irish horse approaching, posted themselves advantagiously in hedges, that the horse could do them no harm, (the foot sent to second them not coming in timely). In the mean time the army from Ardmagh, upon second thoughts, marching
p.205unexpectedly over the river at Kinard, towards the general, which he no sooner observed, but he ordered his own regiment of foot to march to a narrow pass within two miles of the camp in the enemie's way, from whence they were soon forced, by an orderly retiration, into their own body. As they were moving to gain an advantagious piece of ground of which the enemy possessed themselves before they could come up, the enemy having the advantage to be drawn upon this plain hill, with some usefull ditches. O'Neill being necessitated to draw up his army on a low shrubby piece of ground (with some difficulty) and of great disadvantage to his men in their advancing towards the enemy, who never moved forwards, but playing incessantly with their field-pieces, which alarmed the party sent to Dungannon, and obliged them to return in hast. At first view of them, Munroe took them to be the Laggan horse, but finding his mistake, was somewhat surprized, as some of his own officers informed, and how, they observed, he always dreaded O'Neill. Both armies being drawn up orderly on both sides, O'Neill in the front made a short exhortatory speech, wherein he displayed their present condition, and how every individual man there was obliged to fight for his king, religion, and country, and withall how burthensome they and their creaghts were to the rest of the kingdom, &c. and so gave the word of command to advance, which they chearfully and bravely obeyed, 'till they joined battle, (commanding Rory Maguire's regiment for a reserve.) In the advance our men and the enemy forbore firing 'till they came within pushe of pike, where the English, commanded by my lord Blaney, maintained their ground, 'till my lord and most of his men were cut off. The rout began two hours before night, in which the enemy left very rich booty of all sorts, which hindered the execution much, by the soldiers falling to plunder. My lord Montgomery was taken prisoner, and so was major Cogheran; captain Hamilton, with several officers slain, with four thousand private men on the spot; and in pursuit that night and the next day, about one hundred and fifty soldiers taken prisoners, and dismissed with a pass. To the best of my memory upwards of twenty collours taken, their artillery (being four field-pieces) with most of all their armes, tents, and baggage left behind (except Sir James Montgomery's regiment on their right, who escaped.) Lost of the Irish side, colonel Manus Mc Neale, Garve Donnell, slain; lieutenant general Ferrall and lieutenant colonel Phelim Mc Tuoll Neill wounded; colonel Miles Reilly's cornet killed, with thirty-five private men, and two hundred and forty-five wounded. Next day O'Neill ordered my lord Blaney's and captain Hamilton's corps to be interred in Benborbe church with the proper ceremonies. If God had not put this timely stop to Munroe's career, his instructions and intentions were to harrass the whole country before him 'till he came to Dunmore near Kilkenny, as was found by a memorial delivered by my lord Montgomery's own hand, when a prisoner. O'Neill, to follow this good success, marcht with his now well provided army to Tonregee, in order to reduce the counties of Down and Antrim. By this time my lord of Ormond was assured of the defeat at Benborbe, by some of his own creatures, employed as spies, in Munro's army; whereupon he sent his serjeant at armes to Kilkenny, Wexford, Waterford, Limerick, and Galway, to proclaim a peace concluded sometime before (unknown to general O'Neill, and most of the clergy of the kingdom) with the
p.206supreme council; which, no sooner the nuntio heard, but he sends an express to O'Neill, to congratulate his late victory, and withall desired him to march with his army forthwith to Kilkenny (affairs being of late carried contrary to the engagements given them both before by the assembly and supreme council). This message of the nuntio overtook O'Neill at Tonregee, as he was ready to march into the enemie's quarters; yet to shew his obedience to the nuntio, he calls a councill of war, and resolves to march immediately to Kilkenny, against his own and the whole army's inclination, to wave so good an opportunity of improving the catholick cause in the province of Ulster, and consequently in the whole kingdom. How breaches were made up afterwards at Kilkenny, you know best, for I staid behind them in the North to recruit my troop: but this much I can call to mind, when O'Neill returned from Kilkenny, he took in Maryburrough, Deesart, Cullentragh, Sheelan, alias Dsiden, Bealaroyn, Castlereban, Athy, &c. From Athy the general went to Harristowne, where Sir Phelim O'Neill and Harry Roe O'Neill were with all the horse for some weeks before. From Harristowne they marched to Lucan, where the army wanting provisions and other necessaries, and despairing of doing any good, by reason of many disappointments, marcht back to Castlereban near Athy, where the general kept his winter quarters, and dispersed the army to the most convenient quarters in the kingdom. In this march I heard of none that deserted our army, nor of no engagement with any of Preston's party.
1647. After Preston was beaten at Lyndsay's Knock1by colonel Jones, O'Neill being come then the length of Abbyboyle with a good army to take his rounds by Sligoe, some of the supreme council came to him from Kilkenny, to diswade him from his present design, and to return back to Leinster to relieve them, since general Preston and the whole country was open for Jones and his successful English party; which message Neill and the rest of his army disapproved, and yet were loth to return a positive denyall, 'till the second message, whereby the supreme council pressed the necessity of his immediate return, as affairs stood; which prevailed at last with O'Neill to alter his former resolutions, and march back to Killbeggan, much against his own and his officers inclinations, some whereof mutynied in four or five days after, and kept their cabal meetings within Killbegan church. The chiefe ringleaders colonel Alexander M'Donnell, Rory Maguire, Hugh Boy O'Donnell, with most of the whole army of foot, except the general's own regiment of foot, leiutenant general Ferrall's and Philip M'Hugh O'Reilly's. Upon the first notice the general had of this mutiny, he thought to surprise and secure the chiefe heads; but on the first beat of drum, when the cabal officers saw him make towards them, they immediately run, and every one of them headed their own men, with resolution to stand out, and march from the camp. The general immediately ordered the artillery to be planted on them as they stood, which with the mediation of the bishop of Clogher and general Farrell, wrought on them so far as to be pacified, and brought to a better understanding, and submitted and acknowledged their errour; though many in the world would think it a plausible pretence, as alledging (which was true) that they had no subsistance, or any kind of establishment in the standing army of the kingdom, as other provinces had, and that they served only to be absolute slaves to the supreme
p.207council, who contributed nothing towards their maintenance, though apt to call upon them on any emergency; and when any service offered that might probably redound to their present or future glory, or the generall good of the nation, they allways thwarted or diverted them, which they conceived to be an ill design, either to make them inconsiderable in the nation, or instruments only to serve their own ends. Neill made answer, I told you often, and the generallity of the nation, that I came to the kingdom with intent to serve the king and the nation in generall, and in particular the province wherein I was born, and that no further than reason and justice would dictate; and do tell you, no pretence or collour of any other notion whatsoever, will diswade me from discharging to the utmost of my power the many assurances of this kind I gave the supreme council, and the nation in general, and to you before; and do believe nothing will more endear or create a better understanding between you and the rest of your countrymen than a timely reliefe of this kind in time of need.
So the discontents being for this time seemingly made up, the army marched forwards to Castlegordon, where O'Neill quartered 'till November following, 1647, when he and the Leinster officers joined, composed most of horse, as Sir Walter Dungan, Lewis Moore, Finglass, Barnwell, &c. with some Connaught captains of the Roirke's and Reynolds's, with some Kelley's, in the whole amounting to twelve thousand foot and fifteen hundred horse, with whom they marched to burn the English quarters near Dublin, by order of the supreme council. The first day they marched near Lyndsy's Knock, the second day to Dunboyne, the next day a party detached to burn and spoil the country. The same day the army marching over a bridge near Clonee, to a rising hill where they were drawn up, upon an alarm that colonel Trevor was approaching with a strong body of horse from Castleknock to the bridge, the army passed a little before, from whence he was soon forced to make a brisk retreat, the army continuing on their march, 'till they came that night to Brazell, the fourth day to Ratho, where about twelve o'clock Michael Jones, Trevor, Sir Harry Titchbourne, and Sir Thomas Armstrong appeared within a small distance with four squadrons of horse, who after our army was drawn up, and they taking a full view of them, called a council of war, who agreed it was dangerous to venture on, such a formidable army, commanded by an old experienced soldier; and so marched off without offering the least disturbance, our army continuing on their march, 'till, we came that night the length of Clonmolin, where we still apprehended an onsett from Jones and the rest, which obliged us to stand to our arms all night; the fifth day to Blackford, within three miles of Clonard-bridge, where the enemy likewise appeared, and went off as before; the sixth day passing over Clonard-bridge, and so back to Castle-jordan. During the whole march, partys were employed to burn and spoil, who brought in great booties. Sir Walter Dungan and colonel Bryan M'Mahon commanded the forlorne hope during this march in the enemie's quarters. At Blackford I heard myself, Sir Walter Dungan, Finglass, &c. affirm, they learned more experience in this march than ever they did in their lives before. The winter following the army was quartered dispersedly over the kingdom, with daily expectation of being disarmed by the supreme council.
1648. Ormond, Inchiquin, and the supreme council, having agreed about the
p.208latter end of spring, Sir Phelim O'Neill, lord Iveagh, Alexander M'Donnell, Bryan M'Coll Mac Mahon, Myles Reilley, Hugh Boy Donnell, Torlagh O'Neill, M'Henry and Art M'Hugh Boy O'Neill, both of the Fews, Daniel Oge Magenis, uncle to the lord Iveagh, and such other officers as were possessed of their estates in 1641, deserted O'Neill, and joined Ormond, Inchiquin, and the supreme council, except Philip M'Hugh O'Reilly, Rory Maguire, Hugh M'Brian, M'Cuconaght Maguire, Hugh M'Art Roe M'Mahon, Bryan Mantagh M'Mahon, Miles Swiny, O'Cahane, Hugh M'Patrick Duff M'Mahon, Coll. Con O'Roirk, and captain Charles Reynolds, of the county of Leitrim, lieutenant general Ferrall, and all his relations in the county of Longford (except Richard Fitz Robert O'Ferrall) who stuck to O'Neill. You may easily judge what state Neill was left in at this time. In May following the nuntio apprehending that foul play, and observing how affairs run at Kilkenny quite contrary to his expectation, sends privately to O'Neill, praying him to send a party of horse to meet him at Ballynekilly a certain night, and that he would endeavour to make his escape from Kilkenny, which accordingly was done, and the nuntio conveyed to a house prepared for him near Maryburrough, where O'Neill then quartered, and where both of them stay'd for some time after. Rory Maguire in the mean time was sent to rendevouse what men he had at Burr, and to make up a body of them, and such as would join with them; some horse and foot came in, accordingly, and an express was sent to Phelim M'Hugh O'Reilly to march with what men he had from the county of Cavan, who met the express by the way coming. No sooner were they joined, but news came that general Preston took the field, whereupon O'Neill removed with his small army to Athlone, to secure his men as well as that pass. In his march near Moatgranoge, the first blood was spilt between him and Preston, by one captain Davys, an officer of Castlehaven's, taken prisoner before near Ardmagh, and released by O'Neill after Benborbe fight. Preston and his army draws near Athlone, and encamps at Toy, within two miles of it. O'Neill within and Preston without the town, spent a good deal of time in one another's neighbourhood, without any other action but slight skirmishes, 'till O'Neill, for want of provisions, was forced to quit the place and march to Jamestown, leaving Theobald Magawly with some officers and soldiers of his own army to guard and defend the castle and pass; he takes a round by Mohill, through, the county of Leitrim, to St. Johnstowne in the county of Longford, where news came to him that Clanrickard, Preston, and all those that joined them, invested Athlone with a very close siege on both sides the river, whereupon he marches forward to Ardagh, and resolves to try his fortune in raising the seige, when intelligence came to him that lord Dillon, lord Taaffe, major Barnwell and colonel Purcell, were posted at Ballymore with a considerable party of horse and foot to intercept him: however, O'Neill keeps on his march over the Ennywater, to encounter them at Ballymore. First, as he passed the river, some diversion was offered by a party of the enemy, the next day proving very rainy, obliged him to keep his camp all that day at a convenient distance from Ballymore, without any alarms from the enemy; the next morning he appears before it, where no sooner discovered, but the lords ordered the old walls and ditches of both sides the street to be lined by the foot, and the horse to be drawn up in the centre within the town. O'Neill attacks the foot and dislodges
p.209them, and routed them and the horse together, without much dispute, or any great loss, (O'Neill abhorring the spilling of his countrymens blood if he could help it.) He lost only four men of his own, more of the enemy, and lieutenant Barry taken prisoner. Two nights before this Athlone was surrendered; O'Neill to secure Athy and other towns in Leinster in his hands, marches forthwith to Maryburrough, his army beginning to encrease daily, having at this time about 2500, he marches to Athy, next day he storms Ballylichan and Hovendon's castle, and gave merciful quarters. Within two days after our army was mustered and found to be 3000 strong, horse and foot. Next day they marched to Ballyragid, (Mountgarret's house) the second day to Deninbridge (within three miles of Kilkenny) where Rory Maguire was commanded with two troops of horse to Dunmore. In his way a squadron of horse accosted him, who engaged and forced him to retire back to the camp; the next day we crossed the river into my lord Mountgarret's deer park, where we were supplied with store of venison and good ale found in the park lodge: we staid here but five days, in which time abundance of preys, and all sorts of provisions came in from Ossory. Preston and Inchiquin appearing daily with great bodies of horse on rising grounds westwards of us; we marched from before their faces, 'till we came to Gortatree Tocher (the first day) which was made up in an instant with faggots, and so to Burrisewly. By this time Inchiquin was appointed with 5000 horse and foot to attend our motion, and wait an opportunity to beat up our quarters, which he never durst nor offered to attempt in our whole march. An express met our general here from the O'Brien's of Tumond to invite him over the Shannon, which he seemed to accept, and in order to it marched to Killaloe, where some of those gentlemen met and conferred with him, laying before him some friendly projects, which he also seemed to approve, but told them, within forty-eight hours longer he would resolve them further: in the mean time he commands Rory Maguire, with three or four hundred men (under the pretence of bringing in preys) to march towards Banagher in order to surprise it, having received an account from his spies of the present state of it, which Maguire accordingly gained before the next morning with great toil and expedition; a piece of service very acceptable to O'Neill, and of great consequence at that time; of which, O'Neill no sooner had notice, but he marches to the Silver-mines, and commanded Phelim Mc Tuoll O'Neill with a detachment to storm Nenagh, if not surrendered on summons, which they would not yield to, 'till it was taken by storm. From the mines (where they encamped but one night or two) they marched to Nenagh, from thence to Burr, where an express met the general from the governor of Athy, that he was closely besieged by general Preston and one Mc Thomas, whereupon Phelim Mc Tuoll was appointed out again with a detachment of 450 men to relieve Athy, and in his instructions was to ferry his men over by night at Castlereban within two miles of Athy. He marched with such expedition, that he tired his men to 80, with whom he boldly ventured through Mc Thomas's brigade, and forced his way through an old abbey likewise possessed by the enemy, and in his way took lieutenant colonel Sanford and other officers prisoners (but the lieutenant colonel afterwards made his escape) and relieved the town, which lay in a gasping condition. The enemy went off; O'Neill himself next day appeared with the whole army where he continued but one
p.210Bancher blockt up, whereupon he counter-marches with all expedition, 'till he came to Ballaghnore, now called Owen Roe's pass, and blockt up Inchiquin and his army. There happened no action except slight skirmishes, during a whole fortnight's space, both armies lay so near one another, 'till Clanrickard and Taaffe with all their power came from Connaught to join Inchiquin, and jointly to fall on O'Neill, who, to know their strength, alarmed their out guards, which occasioned by that means the enemy's whole army to appear under arms within a musket shot of O'Neill, who ordered his army likewise to draw out. Both armies being thus drawn at that distance on both sides a mill-race, one Purdon, with 400 horse, falls in the rear of O'Neill's camp, and entered boldly on the general's own quarters, and possessed himself of the artillery, which he kept but a short time, being beaten off by one troop of horse and 100 foot, left to secure the quarters and guns. Purdon retires to Burr, from whence he came, and left only nine of his men dead behind him. Both the armies withdrew without much action, except random shots, which slightly wounded of our side Con Backagh O'Neill and major Dogherty and Art Mc Hugh Boy O'Neill taken prisoner. O'Neill's army growing scarce of provision by staying so long in so inconvenient a place; Bangor given up, and the inhabitants quitting the country to remote places, who afforded them some supply at first, decamped the first of October, and marched by night towards Ballyboy-arkall, the rather, our own general being assured that Inchiquin with his main body would fall upon him in the front the next day, and Purdon in the rear with his party, which they attempted to do two hours after we began our march, by visiting our empty camp. From Ballyboy we marched the same day to Tollamore, where we encampt ourselves advantageously that night. Inchiquin missing his aim, marches to Kilkenny, Clanrickard back to Connaught, O'Neill straight to Lisnemain near Belturbet, where he remained all the winter and spring. When O'Neill left Tollamore, he stays for five or six weeks in the counties of Westmeath and Longford, from whence he marches to Lisnemain in the county of Cavan, and quartered his men on the creaghts and the inhabitants of the county of Cavan, and the upper parts of the county of Monaghan; and in the spring sent major general Hugh Duff O'Neill to Westmeath, and stormed Ballanalack castle, whereabouts our men were quartered, in continual actions with the Methians 'till Easter Sunday following, we marched back again, after forcing the county of Westmeath to pay us contribution, and after which we made a shift to live among the creaghts of Ulster 'till the cessation with general Monk. As to the peace concluded between Ormond and the confederates in 1648, I see no reason why O'Neill was not concerned, if not upon the nuncio and clergy's being disgusted, as well as he. The misunderstanding began in 1647, all the deserters went off the May before. January 1648, you can remember the assembly took a solemn oath to conclude no peace, nor act any general thing tending to the nation, without the major vote of the assembly and supreme council. If they acted any thing contrary to the tenor of that oath, as possibly they might, or was believed they did, must probably be the main motive for the distinction: I am sure O'Neill was always for establishing a certain number of the northern army with the standing army of the kingdom, in regard he served
p.211them all alike. What of this I cannot call to mind, I must refer to your own better memory; but this more I can add, that one Thomas Terrill, of the supreme council, mentioned that no other title should be given O'Neill in any directions, than Mr. Owen O'Neill, an argument of spiteful malice and antipathy.
1649. In the beginning of May O'Neill finding himself destitute of all possibility of doing good, and having no means left him under God's providence, but a few poor creaghts of his own country to maintain himself and the few men he kept on foot still, nor no ammunition, nor means left to get anything unless by taking some desperate course; on which he settled his thoughts, and off-hand summoned a provincial council to meet at Belturbet, where it was concluded (upon a former invitation sent by sir Charles Coote) to treat with him for ammunition, and commissioners appointed immediately to meet him for that purpose, or his commissioners, at Newtown near Drimahire, where colonell Richard Coote and major Ormsby met, and agreed to give thirty barrels of powder, ball and match proportionably, three hundred beeves, or four hundred pounds in money conditionally: O'Neill should march with his army to relieve Derry. Secretary Glancy was left at Sligo to receive the ammunition; but within two days after, colonell Coote writt to O'Neill, that his brother the lord president would not stand to these articles, and so broke off: whereupon, to try other conclusions, Hugh Mc Pat Duff Mc Mahon was sent to colonel Monk with the like proposal, which was readily granted; whereupon O'Neill with his weak army marches to Glassdromon, within seven miles of Dundalk, where Monk quartered; from whence he sends a party with carriage-horses to receive and bring home the ammunition. Colonel Trevor hearing of the passage, prepares himself with five or six squadrons of horse, and marches from Drogheda to interrupt them, which he effectually did, by surprising the party in their return in a plain road, and taking the ammunition, and routing the whole party after a hot dispute. This accident no sooner happened, but O'Neill marches to Clowness, where an express came to him the next day from Sir Charles Coote, acquainting him that Derry was again besieged by my lord Montgomery and the Scotch, and that he would allow and ratify the former proposals, so he went to raise the Scotch from Derry, which O'Neill was forced to accept of this time; and in order to make good his part of the agreement, marches by short steps with his army, consisting of 2000 men, 'till he came to Ballykelly in the county of Derry, of which he possessed himself. The Scotch hearing of his approach, raised their siege and posted away by day and night, 'till they were over the Ban-water in their own country. O'Neill encamps before the town, Tyrone side of the river, where president Coote came to compliment him, and perform his conditions, and afterwards invited him and his chief officers into the town, and treated them nobly. O'Neill continued encamped here eight or nine days longer, where he unfortunately fell sick, occasioned (as some confidently affirmed, and was myself since assured off by an English officer that it was so) by a poisoned pair of russet leather boots, sent him, as a present by a gentleman of the Plunket's from the county of Lowth, who boasted to this gentleman that he did the English a considerable service in dispatching O'Neill out of the world. About this time Ormond besieged Dublin, who sent Daniel O'Neill, to his uncle O'Neill, now sick, with the same proposals formerly
p.212offered, who seemed to accept of none, but such as the nuntio would approve. By next post news came of Ormond's being routed by Jones, whereupon O'Neill calls for the chief officers of his army, and put to them what was best to be done as affairs stood? They all submitted to his better judgment, who replied, Gentlemen, to demonstrate to the world that I value the service of my king, and the welfare of my nation, as I always did, I now forget and forgive the supreme council, and my enemies their ill practices, and all the wrongs they did me from time to time, and will now embrace that peace which I formerly denied out of a good intent. Whereupon commissioners were appointed to go along with Daniel O'Neill to my lord of Ormond, to ratify the same. Having taken his leave of Sir Charles Coote, begins his march (he being carried in a horse litter) 'till they came the length of Ballahays in the county of Cavan, where colonel Trevor came to kiss his hands, and to congratulate the late good understanding between Ormond and him. From whence he commanded his lieutenant general and major general Hugh O'Neill to march with the army, and join my lord of Ormond, he himself growing worse, was removed to Cloghhotterwater, near Cavan, where he parted this world the sixth of November, 1649, and was interred in the Old Abbey at Cavan.
1650. About March following a provincial council, was summoned to meet at Belturbet, in order to elect a new general for the province of Ulster, where the marquis of Antrim, Sir Phelim O'Neill, lieutenant general Ferrall, Henry Roe O'Neill (Hugh Duff being then in Munster) and the bishop of Clogher, met as competitors (bishop Swiny of Killmore, chairman) and the competitors names being called over they all appeared except Hugh Duff. The articles between Ormond and O'Neill were called for, and read, wherein a proviso was found, that in case God should call away general O'Neill, none of the deserters should have a vote in the election of a new general; whereupon those of the deserters which stood by were ordered to withdraw, which they did after some debate. The evening before, the bishop of Clogher endeavoured to gain some of general O'Neill's friends to vote of his side, making them believe that he would resign over again the place to Daniel O'Neill, who was a favourite both of the king's and of Ormond's, and a person both a soldier and a native of the province, by which means he got an interest which contributed much to his election, which done he waits on the lord of Ormond to receive his commission (Ormond being then at Athlone). The Bishop no sooner received his com- mission, but he goes pro forma to Daniel O'Neill, and offered it him conditionally if he would become a Roman catholick, which the ambitious bishop knew he would not listen to. As far as I could understand, Ormond favoured the bishop before Antrim, or any other of the province, except Daniel O'Neill, who was incapable on account of his religion. The main consideration and winning reasons that took place in the election were, that if any of the deserters, or others of emulous and ambitious spirits were chosen, that probably it might occasion the province to fall in pieces again, and for want of due consideration in hot and factious brains could not unanimously be brought into the field under a lay, so well as a spiritual commander. Being under cure of my wounds, I was not an eye-witness of the action at Litterkenny, but what I have by hearsay, and by an officer that was in the action, and assured me that the bishop was four thousand strong, when he marched to
p.213Tyrconnell. When the army came to Litterkenny, colonel Miles Swiny made an humble request of the bishop to give him and his regiment leave to march to Castledo to try if he could gain it for their future security in that part of the country, which was granted, but was wanting afterwards, as many more were that were left in garrisons up and down in those parts, which very much weakened the army the day of action. It appeared to this gentleman that the enemy had as many horse of Scotch and English, as the Irish had of horse and foot. The Scotch who was protected by the bishop in those parts, and particularly colonel Sanderson, bore a great share in defeating him in the last day. The first day's engagement a fortnight before being thus: the bishop's army coming to a pass on the river between Lifford and Derry, the tide beginning to flow, the colonels were commanded to cast dice who would venture over the ford with his regiment first: Phelim Mc Tuoll O'Neill, tho' his turn was that day to be in the rear, said, he would casts no lots, but would venture over, which he did with some difficulty, and beat off the horse the other side, whereby he gave the whole army liberty to march over leisurely, some forced to swim. All that night they were forced to stand to their arms; next day Sir Charles Coote appeared with his formidable army, and drew them up by a Danish stone fort upon a narrow pass leading to Derry. The bishop likewise drew up his army in battle array, both armies being within musket shot of each other, captain Taylor and captain Cathhcart, two of the best horse officers the enemy had, marched with two strong brigades of horse towards the rear of our army in a full carrier, who were repulsed bravely by our horse and some foot, and beaten back into their own. body, with the loss of their two fine captains, which ended most of this day's action, both armies withdrawing 'till the fatal day, at Litterkenny, some while after. The enemy in this interval preparing and daily encreasing 'till the last blow was given, wherein we lost, after quarters given, colonel Henry Roe O'Neill, colonel Hugh Maguire, colonel Hugh Mc Mahon, Art. Oge O'Neill, Mc Shane Deemis, and colonel Phelim Mc Tuoll O'Neill. Quarters were made good to none but George Sexton (quarter-master general) who was afterwards put to death at Carrickfergus, by order of the high court of justice; major general Cahan killed on the spot, with a great many prime officers, and about 1500 private men; the bishop taken two days after by major King near Inniskillen. After this, every one shifted for himself the best he could, except some parties who kept out about Sleave Russell in Ulster, no general protection granted.
It is plain to the world what fund or support Owen O'Neill had in maintaining an army during the whole course of this war, having received no pay nor subsistence all the while, except a slender sum in gold from the pope's nuncio (as general Preston and others got) and had to deal with divers distinct and inveterate enemies, and with some very ungrateful friends and countrymen of his own persuasion, joined in the main to ruin him and his well-meaning party, rather than propagate the catholick cause, or good of the king and nation, as they solemnly swore and avowed. The notions under which the respective interests (then on foot) laboured to work out their own ends; which fatal disunion and evil practices have infallibly opened the gap, and laid a foundation for other nations and religions to grow, as well as occasion the universal decay of the new and antient Irish, and the Roman catholick
p.214interest in this unhappy kingdom ever since, and is like to continue so, ad infinitum, if God in his great mercy will not prevent it.