Page images

this purpose had another equally important operation. One of the most prevailing causes of failure had hitherto arisen from the tardy, expensive, and exposed operation of marching an army from place to place, by which it was impossible to act with the secrecy necessary to prevent every movement from being foreseen and guarded against, nor to accommodate the marches of so expensive an instrument to the more rapid and unencumbered marches of an enemy that seemed to start up with an endless growth in every quarter. Instead of this, by the efficient distribution of his forces in those stationary points from which they could with facility be collected, Mountjoy was enabled to traverse the country in person by journeys comparatively rapid and with a force comparatively small; so that an expedition involved little more preparation, publicity, or expense than the journey of an individual. By this he soon contrived to pacify or awe into submission every corner but Tyrone. The rebel earl still held his ground, and fencing off the operations of his antagonist with skill and courage, awaited patiently the expected aid from Spain.

The situation of Tyrone was however becoming monthly more hazardous and distressing. Governing his motions with the most consum. mate tact, so as to avoid the hazard of an action, he could not yet avoid a frequent repetition of skirmishes in which his men were uniformly worsted. Of these the effect was doubly hurtful to his strength; it gave confidence to the enemy, and caused an extensive falling off of the Irish chiefs, who presently began to sue for pardons and offer submissions in every quarter. A skirmish near Carlingford, in the middle of November, 1600, gradually increasing to a battle, was considered to have first given this dangerous turn to his affairs, and awakened a general conviction that he could not hold out through the winter: and this general impression is amply confirmed by all the information we have been enabled to attain. The lord-deputy was contracting the circle of his operations; he was fast reducing Tyrone's means of subsistence by laying waste his country, while, with a view to this expedient, he had arranged to be supplied from England with sustenance for the garrisons. Lastly, and most to be dreaded, another part of lord Mountjoy's plan was becoming fast apparent—the resolution not to intermit his operations during the winter. It becomes, indeed, a matter of curious and interesting speculation to witness the obstinate perseverance under such apparently hopeless circumstances, of a chief 30 sagacious as Tyrone; but this apparent state of things was softened by many illusory circumstances of which the entire force could not then be felt: no sagacity is equal to the full interpretation of a conjuncture wholly new. The surrounding districts had begun to show signs of weariness, and numerous chiefs despairing of the prospects of rebellion had submitted; but Tyrone was aware that the submission of an Irish chief was but a subterfuge in danger, and that the slightest gleam of a favourable change would rouse rebellion from province to province with simultaneous vigour and effect. He had seen and felt the capricious relaxation of the queen's anger, after the heaviest denunciations, on the slightest seemings of submission. Such had been the history of Ireland for centuries ; and he confidently expected supplies and aid from Spain, which should be enough to turn the scale in his favour,

[ocr errors]

வா; rets of the ரரரனாகர் எ from Spass berae ErE frequent, and varios scoounts were transmitted from her majesty's foreign minister, & definite preparations on the part of Spain for the warment and transport of forces destined for Ireland. On this subject, the chiefs also who came in for pardon bad all the facts to tell, Hugh Boy informed Sir Henry Dockwra that the king of Spain had promised to invade Ireland in the course of the year, with 6000 men, who were to be landed in some Munster port. Every week confirmed these reports with fresh intelligence from Calais and from Flanders. In Waterford some seamen made their depositions that they were recently pressed into the service of the king of Spain, and sent to Lisbon with bread for 3000 men who were lying there to be shipped for Ireland. They added the report, that an agent from Tyrone was then at the Spanish court, who represented that his master could subsist no longer without speedy aid.

Matters were still advancing by a tedious progress to a termination, which must have appeared to depend entirely on the truth of these last mentioned reports. Lord Mountjoy's operations had the purpose and intent hitherto rather of shutting in the rebel earl, of compelling him to exhaust his resources, and of drawing away all hope of assistance from the Irish chiefs, than any direct design of bringing him to action. The result of the most complete defeat could not have had the desired effect, until the resources of Tyrone should be thus broken down, so as to allow no hope of being enabled again to collect an army. It is for this reason that although this peculiar warfare was productive of. numerous incidents, they are seldom such as to warrant detail. Scarcely a movement could anywhere be made, but the first wood approached poured out a sudden volley from its invisible marksmen, or the rude figures were seen rapidly appearing and disappearing among the leafy concealmonts. Among these incidents, we may select some, rather for specimens than as carrying on our narration. For this purpose wo oxtract a page of Moryson's Itinerary on the 13th and 16th of July, 1601. Moryson 'was brother to Sir Richard Moryson, then Norving under Mountjoy, and afterwards vice-president of Munster: ho was himself a fellow of the University of Cambridge, from which he had louve to travel for three years; at the end of which term he resigned his fellowship to come to Ireland, where he was made secretary to lord Mountjoy, and thus became both the eye-witness and

* The 16th day the lord-deputy drew out a regiment of Irish, commanded by Sir Christopher St Laurence, and passing the Blackwater, arched to Benburb, the old house of Shane O'Neale, lying on the hand of our camp, at the entrance of Great Wood. Their

en made a stand, in a faire greene meadow, having our camp he plaines behind them, and the wood on both sides and before

The rebels drew in great multitudes to these woods. Here

we in the campe, being ourselves in safety, had the pleasure to have the full view of an hot and long skirmish, our loose wings sometimes beating the rebels on all sides into the woods, and sometimes being driven by them back to our colours in the middest of the meadow, where as soone as our horse charged, the rebels presently ran backe, this skirmish continuing with like varietie some three howers ; for the lord-deputie, as he saw the numbers of the rebels encrease, so drew other regiments out of the campe to second the fight. So that at last the rebell had drawne all his men together, and we had none but the by-guards left to save-guard the campe, all the rest being drawne out. Doctor Latwar, the lord-deputies chaplaine, not content to see the fight with us in safetie, (but as he had formerly done) affecting some singularitie of forwardnesse, more than his place re. quired, had passed into the meadow where our colours stood, and there was mortally wounded with a bullet in the head, upon which he died next day. Of the English not one more was slaine, onely captaine Thomas Williams, his legge was broken, and two other hurt, but of the Irish on our side, twenty sixe were slaine, and seventy-five were hurt. And those Irish being such as had been rebels, and were like upon the least discontent to turne rebels, and such as were kept in pay rather to keepe them from taking part with the rebels than any service they could doe us, the death of those unpeaceable swordsmen, though falling on our side, yet was rather gaine than losse to the commonwealth. Among the rebels, Tyrone's secretary, and one chiefe man of the O'Hagans, and (as we credibly heard) farre more than two hundred kerne were slaine. And lest the disparitie of losses often mentioned by me, should savour of a partiall pen, the reader 'must know, that besides the fortune of the warre turned on our side together with the courage of the rebels abated, and our men heartened by successes, we had plentie of powder, and sparing not to shoote at randome, might well kill many more of them, than they ill-furnished of powder, and commanded to spare it, could kill of ours."*

At the time of the last incident, the lord-deputy was engaged in rebuilding the important fortress of Blackwater, which appears to have so long been a main object of contest, as it was the key to Dungannon, the hitherto inaccessible-stronghold and dwelling of Tyrone. To this strong position therefore the earliest attention of both parties was at the time bent~Mountjoy to approach, and Tyrone to defend it. Meanwhile, the English were mainly engaged in cutting down the corn in every quarter round the county, and in preparing their garrisons for the winter's war. They performed these important operations in 'tranquillity; so much had fallen the courage of the Irish, who now began to be sensible that the skirmishes in which they had so freely indulged, were productive of no advantage save to their enemy. This desultory warfare was not however felt to lead to results as decisive as the lord-deputy looked for with considerable anxiety, at a time when his already insufficient means of prolonging the war, and the slowness and scantiness of his supplies made progress of more than ordinary importance. There was little to be effected against an enemy which melted

[ocr errors]

away like mists before the attack, yet still ever hovered round to watch for the moment of advantage, and render every movement harassing if not insecure. The principal objects were to obtain possession of their fastnesses and lurking-places, and to scatter and dissolve them by depriving them of the means of subsistence; for this, it was the immediate aim of lord Mountjoy to cut down their corn, which he took all possible means to effect. Nor was there any great obstacle to be feared, except immediately about Dungannon, to which the English could not approach. But lord Mountjoy, had by considerable diligence discovered a new pass to Dungannon, to facilitate which he cut down a large wood, which opened the way over a plain at the distance of about four miles. By this means he reached a river, on which by building a bridge and fort, he expected to obtain complete possession of Tyrone's country; or, as he represents in his letter to the council, “that this would cut the archtraytor's throat;” and in another letter to Cecil, “ that if we can but build a fort, and make a passage over the river, we shall make Dungannon a centre, whither we may from all parts draw together all of her Majesty's forces.”

The progress of this desultory state of affairs now became embarrassed by additional difficulties. The report of the intended invasion from Spain, while yet uncertain as to its force and destination, became an object of alarm; to meet this fear, Mountjoy was urged to draw off a large portion of his troops towards the south, where their landing was apprehended. Against such a course he strongly protested, observing that the landing-place of the Spaniards, could be by no means certain, and that he might find himself as far from the point of danger wherever he should march to, as where he was then stationed. His troops he observed were not 1500 effective men, with which he might easily retain the positions of which he was then possessed, and prosecute the advantage they gave him. He thought that if he should succeed in completely breaking down Tyrone's strength, which he expected to effect during the winter, that the king of Spain should not have it in his power to cause any very dangerous disturbance in Ireland.*

But while the lord-deputy, was thus industriously engaged in arrangements to prosecute to an end the war against Tyrone, the rumours of the Spanish invasion began to grow still more frequent, and to assume more the character of certainty; and as all indications seemed pointing to the south, it became a question of no small moment and perplexity to provide against the new emergency, without relinquishing the advantages which had been gained in Ulster. Should the Spaniards land in any of the harbours along the south-western coast, the motions of Tyrone would obtain increased importance; and it could not but appear in a high degree dangerous to relax the military chain, by which he was confined to the north. The real strength of the English army was hardly equal to these multiplied emergencies: the demand of numerous garrisons and the waste of war, had been too much supplied by Irish soldiers. The expenses allowed for the supply of the army and forts, had been exceeded, and all arrangements were carried into effect against every conceivable disadvantage.

* Mountjoy's letter to Sir Robert Cecil.

To make the best of these untoward circumstances the lorddeputy resolved to strengthen his garrisons, and provide effectually for the safety of Ulster; and then to lead the rest of his army into Connaught, and to hold a council on the way at Trim. With this view he applied to the English council to forward the necessary succours and provisions to Galway and Limerick; and to send a good supply of arms and ammunition to the garrisons of Ulster, that they might be preserved for the protection of the north, and be found in a fit condition for his summer campaign in that quarter. In the same communication, the lord-deputy informs the council, that many of his Irish captains had shown signs of wavering in consequence of the reports of the Spaniards; and that they had received from Tyrone, the most urgent messages, assuring them that if they should further delay to join him, it would be too late, and he would refuse them after a very little. Notwithstanding which, some of them assured the lord-deputy of their fidelity, though their condition in his army was, in his own words, “ no better than horseboys."*

On the 29th, Lord Mountjoy arrived at Trim, and a council was held, of which it was the chief object to provide for the defence of the pale, to molest which the rebel earl had sent captain Tyrrel, a partisan leader of great celebrity at the time. To meet this danger it was resolved to strengthen the Leinster troops with such forces as could be spared from the Ulster army: and the lord-deputy determined to conduct them in person, until the landing of the Spaniards should be ascertained. This event was not now long a matter of doubt.

On the third of September, letters from Sir Robert Cecil informed the lord-deputy that the Spanish fleet had appeared off Scilly, to the number of forty-five vessels, of which seventeen were men-of-war, and the remaining vessels of large burthen, containing 6000 soldiers. In the same letter, the lord-deputy was desired to demand whatsoever forces and supplies should appear to be needful, and direct the places to which they should be sent.

The full confirmation of the arrival of the Spaniards speedily followed. The lord-deputy was in Kilkenny, whither he had gone to consult with Sir George Carew and the earl of Ormonde, when he received the account that their fleet had entered the harbour of Kinsale, by letters from Sir George Wilmot and the mayor of Cork. On this information, the lord-deputy resolved to meet them with all the force he could muster from every quarter; justly considering, that on their fate must depend the entire result of the war. He accordingly sent to draw off the companies from Armagh, Navan, and the pale, into Munster: and, accompanied by the lord-president Carew, he travelled thither with all speed. He soon ascertained that the Spaniards which had taken possession of Kinsale, were 5000 men under the command of Don Juan D’Aguila; and that they had brought with them a large supply of arms, as the provision for a general rising of the people, which they had been led to expect; they had also 1500 saddles for their cavalry; and expressed an intention not to keep within their

* Lord Mountjoy's letter. Moryson.

« PreviousContinue »