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climates. Such is the headlong tumult, such the torrent rapture,' by which life is let loose amongst the air, the earth, and the waters under the earth, that one might imagine the trumpet of the archangel to have sounded already for the second time, (Par. Lost, book xi, v. 75,) and the final victory to have swallowed up for ever the empire of Death. Not by way of saying something rhetorical, but as an expression barely and poorly corresponding to my strong impressions of this memorable case, I would say, that, what a vernal resurrection in high, latitudes is in manifestations of power and life, by comparison with climates that have no winter, such, and marked with features as distinct, was this Irish insurrection, when suddenly surrendered to the whole contagion of the pas sions then let loose, and to the frenzy of excitement, which mastered the popular mind at that era, by comparison with common military movements, and the pedantry of mere technical warfare. What a picture must Enniscorthy have presented on the 27th of May! Fugitives crowding in from Ferns, announced the rapid advance of the rebels, now, at least, 7000 strong, elated with victory, and maddened with vindictive fury. Soon after noon their advanced guard, considerably above 1000, and well armed with muskets, (pillaged, by the by, from royal magazines, hastily deserted,) commenced a tumultuous assault. Less than 300 militia and yeomanry formed the garrison of the place, which had no sort of defences, except the natural one of the river Slaney. This, however, was fordable, and that the assailants knew. The slaughter amongst the rebels, from the little caution they exhibited, and their total defect of military skill, was mur derous. Spite of their immense numerical advantages, it is probable they would have been defeated. But in
Enniscorthy, (as where not?) treason from within was emboldened to show itself at the very crisis of suspense. Incendiaries were at work; flames began to issue from many houses at once. Retreat, itself, became suddenly doubtful; depending, as it did, altogether upon the state of the wind. At the right hand of every royalist stood a traitor; in his own house were other traitors; in the front, was the enemy; in the rear, was a line of blazing streets. Three hours the battle had raged; it was now four, P. M. ; and, at this moment, the garrison hastily gave way, and fled to Wexford.
Now came a scene hardly matched for its variety of horrors, except in September, 1812, upon the line of the French advance to Moscow, through the blazing villages of Russia. All the loyalists of Enniscorthy, all the gentry for miles around, who had congregated in that town, as a centre of security, were summoned at that moment, not to an orderly retreat, but to instant flight. At one end of the street were seen the rebel pikes and bayonets, and fierce faces, already gleaming through the smoke: at the other end, volumes of fire surging and billowing from the thatched roofs, common in that country, and blazing rafters, beginning to block up the avenues of escape. Then began the agony, in the proper sense of that word,that is, the strife and uttermost conflict, of what is worst and what is best in human nature. Then was to be seen the very delirium of fear, and the delirium of vindictive malice; private and ignoble hatred, of ancient origin, shrouding itself in the mask of patriotic wrath; the tiger glare of just vengeance, fresh from intolerable wrongs and the neverto-be-forgotten ignominy of stripes and personal degradation; panic, self-palsied by its own excess; flight, eager or stealthy, according to the temper or the means; volleying pursuit; the very frenzy of agitation, under every
mode of excitement; and here and there, unappalled and self-sustained, the desperation of maternal love, victorious and supreme above all lower passions. I recapitulate and gather under general abstractions, many individual anecdotes, reported by those who were on that day present in Enniscorthy; for at Ferns, not far off, and deeply interested in all those transactions, I had private friends, intimate participators in the trials of that fierce hurricane, and joint sufferers with those who suffered most in property and in feeling. Ladies were then seen in crowds, hurrying on foot to Wexford, the nearest asylum, though fourteen miles distant, many in slippers, bare-headed, and without any supporting arm; for the flight of their defenders, having been determined by a sudden angular movement of the assailants, coinciding with the failure of their own ammunition after firing, had left no time to give warning; and most fortunate it was for the unhappy fugitives, that the confusion of the burning streets, together with the seductions of pillage, drew aside so many of the victors as to break the unity and perseverance of the pursuit.
Wexford, however, was in no condition to promise more than a momentary shelter. Orders had been already issued to extinguish all domestic fires throughout the town, and to unroof all the thatched houses; so great was the jealousy of internal treason. From without, the alarm was hourly increasing. On Tuesday, the 29th of May, the rebel army advanced from Enniscorthy to a post called Three Rocks, not much above two miles from Wexford. Their strength was now increased to at least 15,000 men. Never was there a case requiring more energy in the disposers of the military force; never was there one which met with less, in the most responsible quarters. The nearest military station was the fort at
Duncannon, twenty-three miles distant. Thither, on the 29th, an express had been despatched by the Mayor of Wexford, reporting their situation, and calling for immediate aid. General Fawcet replied, that he would himself march that same evening with the 13th regiment, part of the Meath militia, and sufficient artillery. Relying upon these assurances, the small parties of militia and yeomanry then in Wexford gallantly threw themselves upon the most trying services in advance. Some companies of the Donegal militia, not mustering above 200 men, marched immediately to a position between the rebel camp and Wexford; whilst others of the North Cork militia and the local yeomanry, with equal cheerfulness, undertook the defence of that town. Meantime, General Fawcet had consulted his personal comfort, by halting for the night, though aware of the dreadful emergency, at a station sixteen miles short of Wexford. A small detachment, however, with part of his artillery, he sent forward; and these were the next morning intercepted by the rebels, at Three Rocks, [such was the activity and such the information of general officers in those days!] and massacred almost to a man. Two officers, who escaped the slaughter, carried the intelligence to the advanced post of the Donegals; but they, so far from being disheartened, marched immediately against the rebel army, enormous as was the disproportion, with the purpose of recapturing the artillery. A singular contrast this to the conduct of General Fawcet, who retreated hastily to Duncannon upon the first intelligence of this disaster. Such a movement was so little anticipated by the gallant Donegals, that they continued to advance against the enemy, until the precision with which the captured artillery was served against themselves, and the non-appearance of the promised aid, warned them to retire. At Wexford they
found all in confusion and the hurry of retreat. The flight, as it may be called, of General Fawcet was now confirmed; and, as the local position of Wexford made it indefensible against artillery, the whole body of loyalists, except those whom insufficient warning threw into the rear, now fled from the wrath of the rebels to Duncannon. It is a shocking illustration of the thoughtless ferocity which characterized too many of the Orange troops, that, along the whole line of this retreat, they continued to burn the cabins of Roman Catholics, and often to massacre, in cold blood, the unoffending inhabitants, totally forgetful of the many hostages whom the insurgents now held in their power, and careless of the dreadful provocations which they were thus throwing out to the bloodiest reprisals.
Thus it was, and by such insufferable mismanagement, or base torpor, that on the 30th of May, not having raised their standard before the 26th, the rebels had already possessed themselves of the county of Wexford, in its whole southern division,- Ross and Duncannon only excepted; of which the latter was not liable to capture by coup-de-main, and the other was saved by the procrastination of the rebels. The northern division of the county was overrun pretty much in the same hasty style, and through the same unpardonable blunders in point of caution, and previous concert of plans. Upon first turning their views to the north, the rebels had taken up a position on the hill of Corrigrua, as a station from which they could march with advantage upon the town of Gorey, lying seven miles to the northward. On the 1st of June, a very brilliant affair had taken place between a mere handful of militia and yeomanry, from this town of Gorey, and a very strong detachment from the rebel camp. Many persons at the time regarded this as the best fought action in the whole war. The two parties had met about