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HISTORY OF BANDON
[Pages 482-499] THE BANDON MILITIA, OR SOUTH CORK LIGHT INFANTRY
On the 26th of September, 1651, it was officially announced that the rebels were subdued, and the rebellion appeased and ended. There being no further necessity for the services of the regiment, they were disbanded, but the services of the troop of horse were retained; and this troop was one of the four in the province of Munster when England declared war with France and Holland in 1663. In that year the Bandon militia were again under arms, and ready for active service. A foreign invasion was looked upon at this time as a certainty. The hostile fleets of the French and Dutch were hourly expected to make a descent upon our southern shores. At one time it was Bantry Bay they were to land; at another time it was at Kinsale; and then, in great haste, an express reached the lord-president that 16 sail of great ships came from the seaward, and were actually in Dunworly Bay,* where they could easily land their munitions of war undisturbed, and where their troops could form and reach Clonakilty, Bandon, and Kinsale, in less than a day’s march. But it was not with a foreign foe alone they had to contend. All the country, south of the Lee, was entrusted to them and some companies of the militia raised by some gentlemen in the west of the county; and they received orders to answer all alarms from the sea, and towards Kinsale, as well as to keep good order those turbulent people in the west, of whom Lord Orrery writes:- “There are not such a pack of rogues in all Ireland as those in the west.” “The worst sort of people,” &c.
* This proved to be the squadron under the command of Sir Sydney Smith, who was on his way to Kinsale. It consisted amongst others of the Plymouth, Advice, Tiger, Pearl, Ruby, Sweepstakes, Elias, two ketches, two fire-ships, an East India prize, &c. So excited was the lord-president on receipt of this startling piece of intelligence, that in one hour after he heard it, he was on his way to Kinsale as fast as his horse could carry him.
In the document sent to Bandon calling out the Bandon regiment, “the worst of people” are also referred to, the regiment having got instructions “to seize the several loose and idle persons who, having nothing of their own to subsist by, do labour to live upon the honesty of others; and that they may have more opportunity to do it, will go about spreading false reports and seditious rumours.”
Speaking in anticipation of the Bandon regiment, Orrery says:- “They will be 400 good men, all English, and Protestants.” Again, speaking of them, he says:- “That the 400 militia of the town, and two of those three troops I begged of your grace for the province, if garrisoned there, would make it considerable there, and a great countenance to that country.
It would appear that the horse could not be spared for this purpose, for we find that, when the regiment was under arms, it consisted of only three companies of foot; the fourth company being mounted.* in order to strengthen the cavalry - an arm of the service then in high favour.
The war did not last long, and peace was duly proclaimed. As there was no invasion, the ill-affected people in the Carberies did not deem it prudent, on their own account, to arise and measure swords with those † whose heroism was still fresh in their memories; and everything having again relapsed into tranquility, the halbert was replaced by the woodman’s axe, and the reaping hook and the grephane were back once more in the hands of those who lately shouldered the musket and wielded the sword.
* They were armed with carbines, and the front rank were supplied with back-plate, breast-plate, and a helmet - in those days called a pot.
† Speaking of the militia at this time, Smith says they were undoubtedly as well officered as any militia since their time, most of the commanders having served in the civil wars.
After the fate of James the Second and his followers was decided at the Boyne, great numbers of stragglers from the Jacobite army sought to make their way back to the west of this county, from which they had not long since set out. This was by no means a difficult task, as all the country through which they had to pass, from Dublin to Cape Clear, was in friendly hands, save Bandon alone - the inhabitants of which town, in little more than a fortnight after the successful battle fought near Drogheda, boldly proclaimed William and Mary as King and Queen of England and Ireland, heedless of all consequences.
The stragglers were members of an ill-disciplined, disorderly militia, who were hastily brought together and muskets being placed in their hands for the first time, they were marched northward by O’Driscoll, McCarthy, O’Donovan, and other chieftains - some of whose selves, and many of whose fathers, ever since the days of Cromwell, were on the run, with a price on their heads. Such were the men who were to lead them to fight with the English and Anglo-Irish regiments, under Lanier and Ormond, under Mitchelburne and Wolseley; and with the French Huguenots, the Danes, and the Dutch, under Caillemot, under Wirtemberg, and under Schomberg.
Although they were no longer soldiers, yet they liked the soldiers rations; which consisted for the most part, of fat oxen and fat sheep which they had plundered from the Protestant colonists and upon which they had been living ever since they travelled two day’s march from their native bogs and mountains; and those they were unwilling to exchange for the goat’s flesh and sour milk of western Carbery.
To stay their wholesale robberies, and to rid this locality of themselves, the Bandon militia were again called out for active service, and soon our immediate neighbourhood was cleared of those pests. From the material our soldiers had to contend with at this time, a pitched battle, or even a good fight, was not to be expected. Nothing but skirmishing at the utmost was to be looked for from a body, whose highest aspiration was to steal a flock of sheep, and who thought themselves victorious when they set fire to a settler’s thatch, or houghed his cattle.
The Bandon militia scarcely ever fought together as a regiment. It was split up into detachments, and each detachment fought away for the common weal, more in obedience to their natural instincts, or to circumstances that suddenly stood before them, than to any orders received from headquarters, or the carrying out of some preconceived plan of campaign.
On the 20th of January, 1691, a little party composed of the Bandon troop (subsequently known as the East Carbery horse), and 18 rank and file from one of the foot companies under Lieutenant (485) Arthur Bernard, * ventured into O’Driscoll’s country. This was about as great a feat in that day as if a similar number of British soldiers should, in our day, hazard a march into the country possessed by armed and hostile Caffres. or venture in among the towering mountains and dark defiles where the warlike Maories stand at bay. The Bandonians were fortunate as usual. Although 120 of O’Donovan’s picked men attacked them, they were not only repulsed, but beaten back; and Bernard and his detachment returned in safety to the civilized world, after killing some of the enemy, and bringing with them 500 sheep, 13 horses and 50 cows.
* Lieutenant Arthur Bernard, progenitor of the Bernards of Palace-Anne, was the only brother of Judge Bernard (ancestor of the Earls of Bandon), and youngest son of Francis, who served many years in the regiment during the great rebellion. He was born at Castle-Mahon, Bandon, in A.D. 1666, and was married on the 23rd of December, 1685, “at the castle of Lismore, in the great dining-room, about eight o’clock on Sunday night,” to Anne Power (or Le Poer), of Mount Eglantine, county Waterford. In 1714 he built the splendid family residence - now almost a ruin - and called it Palace-Anne, in compliment to Anne, his wife. In 1715 he was elected to represent Bandon in the Irish Parliament, but declined to serve. In 1718 he was provost of Bandon, on which occasion he gave all the emoluments of his office to a fund then being raised for the repayment of a sum borrowed to pay a portion of the fine imposed on the Bandonians by General McCarthy in 1688-9. Mr. Bernard was attainted by King James, and his name appears in the list of “Persons who have notoriously joined in the rebellion and invasion of this kingdom, and are hereby adjudged traitors, convicted and attainted of high treason, and shall suffer death.” He was succeeded by his son Roger, provost of Bandon in 1737 and again in 1751; who was succeeded by his only child, Roger. The latter was high sheriff of the county of Cork in 1767, and died young. Upon his decease, the estates passed to his uncle, Arthur Bernard, who married his cousin, Mary Aderly, great grand-daughter of the lord chief-justice, Sir Matthew Hale. This Arthur was provost of Bandon in 1745, 1755,1762, 1772, 1780, 1784, 1786, 1788, and in 1790; and died at an advanced age in 1793. He was succeeded by his son, Thomas Bernard, who married Harriet, daughter of _____ Lucas; and dying in 1795, issueless, left his estates to Arthur Beamish, the second son of his sister Elizabeth who married Richard Beamish of Raheroon - thereby disentailing his brother, Arthur (a captain in the 84th regiment). Arthur had a sister, who married Captain Jocelyn - one of the Roden family. She accompanied her husband to America, and was close at hand during the memorable Battle at Bunker’s Hill, June 17th, 1775. Previous to her husband marching out to the attack, she obtained a promise from him, that should he survive unhurt, he would return to her at once when the engagement was over. Not having done so, she boldly went in quest of him. Many a corpse she turned over, and enquired of many a poor wounded soldier wearing the familiar facings of her husband’s corps if they could give any tidings of him, but they could not. At last she came to where the dead were unusually thick, and there almost in the centre of the ghastly group, was the object of her search. He was lying on the ground, and beside him was his faithful servant, both dead. Catching him up in her arms, as well as she could, she moved with him some little distance away, and having washed him and powdered his hair, she garbed him in the full dress which he often wore on a happier occasion; the wrapping him in a pair of blankets, she scraped out a grave with her own hands, laid the body therein, and having “smoothed down his lonely pillow,” she took the first ship home. Arthur married Margaret, daughter of John Warren, of Castle-Warren, niece of Sir Robert Warren, of Warren’s Grove, and by her had eight children. Of whom Francis, the eldest, was a captain in the 84th regiment (his three brothers, Arthur, William and John were successively majors in the same corps - a corps which was for many years known in the service as the Bernard’s regiment). Captain married firstly, his cousin-german, Jane, daughter of Richard Beamish of Raheroon, and had four children:- Arthur, a lieutenant in the 26th regiment, died in India; Richard, died young; Elizabeth, married her cousin, William Austin; and Mary - and secondly, Marie-Anne Eveline, daughter of George Breton, of Dublin, by whom he had, with other issue, who died young:- William, lieutenant and adjutant of the 81st regiment, killed in the battle of Ferozeshah, December, 22nd, 1845. The day before he had three horses shot under him. So conspicuous were this officer’s services, that a special pension was granted by the War Office to his mother. Margaret, who married and settled in Northumberland; Emma; Francis Arthur, died at sea; Frederick Robinson, served in the 31st regiment, and also in the 66th, married Miss Heffernon, of Cecilstown House; Goderich; and Eveline Aderly.
On the 11th of April, Enniskean was attacked by Brigadier O’Carroll, at the head of the McTommies regiment, McCarthy’s regiment, and two others. The little garrison, which was compose of a detachment of Sir David Collier’s regiment, consisted of Ensigns Lindsay and Daniel, and 44 rank and file. After fighting some time in the streets, they were obliged to retreat into a house. Here they maintained themselves manfully; but faggots being procured and piled around the walls of the dwelling wherein they were, they would all soon be consumed in one great funeral pyre, had not Major Wade, with ten rank and file of the Bandon regiment, arrived to their assistance. Notwithstanding that 1500 armed and infuriated soldiery, in addition to many civilians equally inimical, surrounded Lindsay’s little band, and although 600 yards lay between the outside of the rebel lines and the house they were in, nevertheless, the Bandon men entered the hostile cordon, and forced their way through the enemy up to the very door. Scarcely had they succeeded in this hazardous attempt - indeed, before the Irish could well recover from this surprise * occasioned by this daring exploit - when Major Ogilby, of Coy’s dragoons, gallopped up, and falling on them, he soon routed them. Then following in pursuit, he slew 72 of them, and scattered the rest.
On the 15th of May, the O’Donovans were again attacked by a portion of the Bandon regiment, when Captain Hugh O’Donovan and six of his men fell into their hands. About the same time, a small force, consisting of a lieutenant and 8 men, whilst on night patrol, had their attention attracted by the glare of a fire in one of the neighbouring woods. Creeping up noiselessly to where the light proceeded from, they came upon a body of 40 rapparees, who were sitting round the blazing faggots and enjoying their supper.
* It is said the Irish thought these were but an advanced guard of a large body.
Although the enemy were five to one, they resolved to attack them. Raising their muskets to the soldier, they silently awaited orders; and at the word “fire!” four of the rapparees fell dead. The rest, terrified at the sudden onslaught, ran in all directions; and owing to the darkness of the night they were able to escape, leaving, however, 20 horses, some sheep and some cattle, to reward the victors.
On the 1st of May, Sir Richard Cox was appointed governor of the city and county of Cork; and on the 4th he arrived from Dublin to enter on his duties. One of his first acts was to increase the strength of the three militia regiments of the county and city to nine companies each - namely, the Bandon militia, the city of Cork militia, and the regiment probably at present represented by the North Cork Rifles. He also augmented the cavalry to 36 troops, which he divided into six regiments of six troops each. One of these was the East Carbery or Bandon horse, and was chiefly recruited in Bandon and the towns and country adjoining, and from similar material to that of the original troop which behaved so gallantly at Liscarroll. Cox was not satisfied with merely recruiting and organizing his forces - he sketched out a plan of campaign; and it was by his orders Enniskeane was fortified the month after he became governor, and garrisoned by a strong body of Bandon militia.
This force kept the adjoining country in good order - indeed one of its detachments penetrated to the neighbourhood of Bantry, where it succeeded in killing close on 100 of the rapparees, and retraced its steps with a large booty. In less than a fortnight after this the company under Colonel Moore scoured the country all round Bandon, and killed sixty more of the rapparees. Detachments from head-quarters were always on foot, and were always endeavouring, with more or less success, to rid the country of those desperadoes who would not turn to and earn an honest livelihood for themselves, but would prevent those who strove to do so. The detachment under Captain Nash, in particular, committed such havoc among them, that numerous stories still circulate by our country fire-sides of the summary process by which Shane Dearg used to render it impossible for any of those who fell into his power to interfere any further with the privileges or properties of their fellow subjects, and which obtained for him a notoriety which, after the (488) lapse of nearly two centuries, is even yet found to possess a fresh and vigorous vitality.
When the rapparees had been hunted down, and when the Irish gentry to whom the disaffected looked for sympathy and support had transferred themselves and their available assets to foreign lands - not to procure temporary residence there but to live and die outside the sway of the Saxon - the country enjoyed a profound calm, undisturbed by a menacing outcry for nearly a century. Throughout this long night’s rest, the services of the Bandon militia were not required. At length a pale flickering light started from among the smouldering political combustibles of France. It soon spread out into flames; then burst into a conflagration; and then, mounting high into the skies with loud and angry roar, flung its broad red glare upon the trembling soil of neighbouring nations. Principalities, kingdoms, empires, rang with the clash of arms. It was but natural that the people of our own favoured isles, who had been enjoying for many generations the civil and religious liberty which the French nation were now madly struggling to attain, should sympathise with them in their efforts, and they did so. But when liberty was supplanted by license; when to be free meant to be free to rob one’s fellows; and when doctrines were being preached and practised which aimed at uprooting the very foundation-stones of society, England united with Austria, with Prussia, and with other continental powers, in an effort to stamp out the revolutionary fires which were fast overspreading Europe, and joined these governments in a declaration of war against France.
The French Directory accepted the challenge; and among the schemes they devised for crippling the English enemy was the invasion of Ireland. To meet the difficulty, as well as to suppress the spirit of disaffection now exhibiting itself all over this country, our executive called out the militia. The Bandon regiment (now for the first time called the South Cork ) was amongst the number. Throughout the long interval that passed by since it last grounded arms, it would seem that the colonels were regularly nominated as a death vacancy, or a resignation, would occur; and when the bugle summoned the regiment to fall in for the first time in three generations, the colonel was Sir John Cox. He kept his head-quarters at Dunmanway, in which town a great many of the men were now raised, as also in Bantry and Bandon.
Shortly after it was recruited it marched to Doneraile where it (489) was armed and disciplined under the eye of its new colonel, Lord Doneraile. * Here they remained for only two months, when they got the route for Youghal, where they wintered and staid until the following spring, when they marched for Limerick and Ballyshannon. They staid here, going through the ordinary routine of garrison duty, and occasionally sending out detachments to some of the neighbouring towns, until the latter end of 1796, when a mounted orderly reached head-quarters in great haste, conveying an order for the regiment to set off at once for Cork. This was the month of December, and the French fleet was daily expected in Bantry Bay. There was no time to be lost. Accordingly the colonel ordered the men to get ready; and, in order to dispense with as much impedimenta as possible, he directed that the cues the worn by them, in common with the rest of the British army, should be cut off, so that no time should be lost in stiffening and powdering these useless appendages. The “assembly” being sounded, the men fell in, and at the word “March!” they turned their backs upon their comfortable quarters, and on a bleak winter’s morning took the road for their destination.
It was along and tedious journey. For eight and forty consecutive hours they were not off their feet. They had no time for sleep, or even to dry the wet clothing which clung round their half numbed limbs - nay, there was not even a halt called, unless to snatch a hurried meal, so eagerly were they pressed forward. Day was succeeded by night, and night again by day. and still they were on the march, treading their way through a country, covered deep with snow as far as ever the eye could reach, and over roads, where they sank above their ankles at every step. There was no cheering song during that long dismal route, nor scarce was a word exchanged, save when some poor fellow fell in a faint, disarranging for a moment the succeeding rank and file; at which time some soldier may be heard asking his comrade, in a low hoarse whisper - “Who is it?” Throughout those two weary days and nights the snow fell for many hours, then a cutting wind prevailed for many more, and then it snowed again. On the second night, just as they were passing the boundary wall of a gentleman’s domain, a little after midnight, the moon, stepping from behind a dark cloud, stood forth in the cold sky, illuminating the chilling scene beneath her with a flood of brilliant light. But it came unlooked for, and was unwelcome to men whose minds were weakened by fatigue, and who, among the shadows of the trees that lay across their path, saw spectral arms outstretched to embrace them; and by the bright silvery light which streamed through the trees themselves, they beheld hideous demons sitting crosslegged in the leafless branches, and beckoned them to come. The hardships they passed through on this terrible occasion were the theme of many a barrack fire-side for many years afterwards and a South Cork man who made the memorable march was looked upon by younger soldiers with mingled feelings of admiration and awe.
* St. Leger Aldworth Viscount Doneraile sat in Parliament for the borough of Doneraile in 1749. Upon succeeding to the estates of his maternal ancestors (the St. Legers) he assumed their surname and arms. He was raised to the peerage, July 2nd, 1776, as Baron of Doneraile; and was created Viscount Doneraile in 1785. He married Mary, eldest daughter of Redmond Barry, of Ballycloughe, and died in 1797, leaving numerous issue.
The morning after their arrival they were paraded for the inspection of General Johnson, whose red-tape eye quickly detected the absence of the all-important cue. Turning to Lord Doneraile, who rode by his side:- “Where’s their powder?” gruffly enquired he.
“By G-d! general,” said the colonel, “‘tis in their pouches; and ‘tis there it ought to be in such times as these!”
Johnson quietly took the rebuff, and made no further enquiries on that subject.
From Cork they moved to Mammoor camp - about three miles to the west of Bandon - where they remained until the departure of the French fleet from Bantry Bay. They then proceeded to Blarris, in the county of Limerick, and from thence to Wexford, where they lay during the battle of Vinegar Hill, in which affair their light company was under fire. Its casualties, however, were very small, consisting only of two wounded - one of these was a man named Murphy, familiarly known amongst his comrades as Arigadeen. This poor fellow was believed to have been killed, having received a bullet through the cheek, which felled him to the ground, where he lay motionless, and, so far as appearances went, would never “ram down cartridge” or “fix bayonets” again; and, indeed, there is little doubt that the blood from his wound would have choked him eventually, had not Tom Ahearn, the bugler of his company - a wild scamp of a fellow, whom the fear of the black hole, or even the triangle itself, would not deter whenever he felt inclined for a spree, or any sort of innocent recreation - heard of poor Murphy’s mishap.
Smoking his pipe that evening by the camp fire, Tom suddenly remembered that Arigadeen had a watch; and thinking the matter over, he came to the illegal but natural conclusion that Arigadeen being dead, the watch had no owner. Heirs-at -law and such subtile fictions of the long robe, he had never heard of; and even if he did, it does not seem that he was at that time prepared to recognize them. Be that as it may, Ahearn was determined to have an article so useful to him as a time-keeper. Accordingly, all being quiet, he strolled over the field in quest of Murphy. He found him after some little time, and putting his fingers into his fib, he was in the act of pulling out the watch with the intention of fobbing it himself, when Murphy awoke; and suddenly sitting up, he shook his fist menacingly in the bugler’s face. Almost anyone would have taken to their legs under such circumstances, but Tom was not afraid of any man - dead, alive, or on horseback.
“Aren’t you dead?” said he, looking complacently at his quondam fellow-soldier.
“No, I ain’t!” gurgled out the indignant Murphy.
“Will you say the devil kill the liars after that?” says Tom, who was beginning to think the watch might not be his after all.
“Of course I will!” replied the wounded man. Then, after an effort or two, he succeeded in removing some of the clotted blood that impeded his utterance. “I’m no more dead than you are, Tom Ahearn!” says poor Murphy, “I’m only kilt; and shure if you’re not a heathen entirely, you won’t lave me here all night!”
Tom’s heart softened at last, and taking poor Arigadeen upon his back, he carried him safely into camp. Under the skilful treatment of the surgeon, Murphy soon came round, and he was enabled to serve several years after in the regiment, where he was always known as a steady and well-conducted man.
From Wexford they marched to the Curragh of Kildare, where they lay under canvas for a short time. Their next destination was Galway, where they remained for the winter. Early next spring they set out for Kinsale, to which place they leisurely proceeded by easy marches.
The rebellion being now virtually over, the services of the regiment were needed no longer. Accordingly their arms were stored, and the South Cork, consisting at that time of 650 bayonets, were disembodied.
They did not remain long in retirement, when they were again called (492) to arms, and fell into line in the old barrack-yard in Kinsale, after an interval of only 11 months.
In 1803, being in a high state of efficiency, they left Kinsale in the April of that year for Mallow, where they recruited to their full strength. They were only two months here when they got the route for Waterford, where they remained until 1805. In that year they were stationed in the county of Roscommon, with head-quarters at Boyle. They staid here for but twelve months, when they moved to Mayo (1806), detaching from where the regiment lay, at Castlebar. One detachment, which consisted of Captain Newman’s company, was quartered at Ballina, and to this town the head-quarters shortly after removed. Detachments were also sent out from Ballina. One of these was at Westport; another at Crossmolina, on the western extremity of Lough Conn; another at Eskerough, and elsewhere.
About this time, a body of men known as the Threshers, or Carders, kept all Mayo in terror. Their hostility to the tithe-corn, and their running off with it and thrashing it for their own benefit, earned them the sobriquet by which they were universally known. They committed great injury not only to the property of Protestant clergymen, but also on that of those who sympathized with them, and whose exertions in their behalf caused the Threshers to look on them as their avowed enemies. There was no ascertaining who the perpetrators were. Fellows who spent all night wrecking the revenues of the parson looked the very incarnation of innocence in the morning, and would speak of the devastators with as much virtuous indignation as if they were tithe owners themselves. They had no word in their mouths too bad for them - they were ruffians; they were blackguards; they were thieves; and if they only knew who they were, they’d soon bring the sojers upon ‘em. But as they did not know them, their friendly sentiments were valueless in staying the transgressions or informing the authorities who the transgressors were.
At last it was likely that the mystery would remain a mystery no longer, and that the midnight doings of the Threshers would soon be submitted to the broad glare of mid-day. A man who went by the name of Murty the Thresher, and who was long suspected of being one of their most active partizans, had turned informer, and gave the authorities such intelligences as led to the arrest of several of his former accomplices. They were seized, and lay in the County Gaol awaiting (493) their trial at the next Assizes. Murty was the principal witness against them, and was, of course, a marked man. So well was he aware of this himself, that he left the country where he had been residing all his life and went to live in Ballina; and for better security still, put up at the very next door to the barracks occupied by the South Cork. He had lived in the country, as we have said, where he had a snug farm, a few miles from the town; but as he had given up all notion of ever living there again, he let it be known that he would dispose of his interest in it, as he intended to emigrate when the trial in which he was concerned was over.
Early one Sunday morning, a respectable old farmer called to see him. His story was soon told. He had a family of grown-up sons; and as one of these could be well married if he could get him possession of a good farm, he would close with him for the one that he had to sell at once, if they could agree. As this was the very thing for the old man, Murty put up a good stiff price on it and after a reasonable time spent in endeavouring to reduce the sum demanded, Murty and the old man struck a bargain. As the purchaser wanted to get possession at once, Murty must come home along with him that very moment to his house, distant only three or four miles, until he’d get the purchase money. Murty went with him, and they passed along the road very agreeably together. “A dry bargain isn’t lucky,” said the old farmer, entering the door of his house, and ushering in his guest. Accordingly he opened a cupboard, and placed a bottle of whiskey and glasses upon the table. “Come Murty, my bochill,” said he, filling up his glass at the same time, “drink success to this day’s work.” Murty did so, and the old man drank to the same. Then they had together another glass apiece, during which they talked over the merits of the farm; and then another. The followed a song; and so pleasantly did the time fly by, that Murty did not mind it passing; but not so his wife, who remained at home. She grew uneasy at his protracted stay; and seeing no sign of his returning, she went straight to the farmer’s house where he was. She urged him to return with her at once; but some plausible excuses were made by the old man, and by some means or other she was also delayed. It was not very long, however, until the door opened, and a man roped all over with sugawns, and accompanied by two other, entered with a hatchet on his shoulder. The wife instantly knew what was intended, and with a fierce courage and determination (494) which women sometimes display under circumstances where men are unnerved and undecided, she sprang upon the intended assassin and tore the straw ropes from his face. Murty screeched through sheer terror, and jumping up from the table, rushed for the door; through which he would have escaped, had not one of the farmer’s sons caught him by the skirts of the coat, and pulled him back, causing him to fall upon one knee; and in this attitude he was when the man with the hatchet reached him, and raising his formidable weapon, with one terrific blow upon the forehead, he killed him on the spot.
The detachment of the regiment which lay at Crossmolina marched out and brought in the body, and also the farmer’s son who caught poor Murty by the coat, the old farmer himself, the assassin, and his two accomplices; and the next morning a strong guard escorted them heavily ironed to Castlebar. Amongst the precautions to ensure their safe arrival at their destination, was that of cutting the string by which they tightened the waistband of their breeches round their loins, in order that if any of them attempted to run away, the breeches would fall about their heels and prevent them.
Poor Murty was terribly mutilated. In addition to his skull being broken in, it was found that there were no less than 27 stabs of some sharp instrument on his unfortunate corpse. Most of these had the appearance of being made with French bayonets - probably some of the very weapons distributed among the peasantry by Humbert when he landed a few years before at Killalla.
At the trial, Murty’s widow swore positively to the man with the hatchet, also to the farmer’s son who pulled down her husband. She also swore to the presence of the old man, and the two accomplices. The jury returned a verdict of guilty against them all, and the judge sentenced them to be hanged. A strong division of the regiment surrounded the place of execution, which was at that time known as the artillery ground. A long ladder was placed horizontally, having each end resting in the fork of a tree. The prisoners were then brought up in carts, and placed under what was to serve as the fatal beam; and the ropes secured round their necks and fastened to the ladder overhead, the carts were rolled away, and the five bodies as they swung to and fro in the cold morning air testified to the supremacy of the law.
From Ballina, where the regiment gave a large number of volunteers (495) to the 15th and 41st of the line, they proceeded to Limerick. They did not remain long there, owing to the bad feeling being entertained by the citizens towards them, in consequence of a sentry belonging to the regiment, who was placed at a pump, having bayonetted a civilian who insisted on drawing water from it in spite of him. Accordingly set out in the spring of 1808, and marched to Clonmel.
The following is a list of the officers who served with the regiment at this time:-
Colonel Lord Viscount Doneraile* Lieutenant McCarthy
Lieut.-Colonel Redmond Barry.† “ Morris
Major A. Hill “ Townsend
“ Langton Ensign Kilner Barry
Captain Browne “ Bruce
“ Atkins “ Carey
“ Cooker “ Daunt
“ Crone “ Foot
“ Godsell “ Harris
“ Newman “ Lindsay
Lieutenant Francis Heard “ Nash
“ E. Hungerford Adjutant Bagley
“ T. Hungerford Assistant-Surgeon Chomley
“ Langley Quarter-Master Lieut. Lucas
* Upon the death of Lord Doneraile, Lord Riversdale, who married his daughter, Charlotte Theodosia, was appointed colonel. William Tonson, Baron Riversdale, of Rathcormac, was born in 1775 and died in April 1818.
† Colonel Barry was succeeded in the lieut.-colonelcy by Hayes St. Leger, Viscount Doneraile; and upon the death of Lord Riversdale, to the full colonelcy. He was born in 1786, and in 1816 he married Charlotte Esther, second daughter of Francis, Earl of Bandon. He died in 1854, and was succeeded by the present colonel.
As several of the men were suffering from ophthalmia, the regiment got the route for the Curragh; but they had only reached Athy, when a countermand overtook them, and they were ordered to Wicklow, where they remained all the summer, detaching to Arklow., Hackettstown, Tinahely, the Seven Churches; and in the autumn of the same year, they went to Dublin, where they wintered and staid until April, 1809, in which month they arrived in Kerry. Their head-quarters were at Killarney, and detachments were sent tot Tralee, Castle-Island, Kenmare, and Millstreet. Here they remained some time, then proceeded to Boyle, county Roscommon, in 1810, where Colonel Barry died of fever. Again they returned to Limerick; and while in quarters in that garrison, in 1811, they furnished many volunteers for the 31st Regiment. From Limerick they got the route to Galway where they were stationed at Tuam, and subsequently at Loughrea; and it was whilst at the latter place they volunteered to serve in any part of the United Kingdom. In 1812 they marched to Athlone; and after giving a great number of volunteers to the 62nd, they left in 1813, and marched direct to the Cove of Cork. Here transports awaited them; and after a rough passage they landed at Plymouth, and proceeded direct to Brighton. Whilst occupying those fashionable quarters, they were officially inspected by the Duke of Clarence (afterwards William the Fourth); and so pleased was his Royal Highness with their soldierly bearing, and the precision with which they executed the various military manoeuvres they were put through, that he publicly avowed they were by far the best Irish regiment he had ever seen; and to stamp his appreciation of their efficiency with an enduring mark of his approval, he had them changed from an ordinary regiment into one of light infantry; and from that time forward, Light Infantry has been added to the South Cork - the name, we need scarcely say, by which this old corps is at present known. From Brighton they went in cantonments at Lewes, and remained there until the following December, when they got the route to Plymouth. They were three weeks on this march, and both officers and men suffered severely from the frost and snow. They were bit a few months here when they were ordered to Dartmouth, where many French and American prisoners were confined; and they remained there until peace was proclaimed on the 30th of May, 1814.* Back again to Plymouth, and across St. George’s Channel to the Cove of Cork, where they arrived in September, 1814; and on the 14th of the following month - that is October 1814 - they were disembodied in Cork barracks.
* So indignant were the French prisoners at Dartmouth at Napoleon being sent to Elba, and a Bourbon again mounting the throne of France, that they seized an unfortunate dog on one occasion, and before the eyes of some officers of the regiment who happened to be present, they secured a royal cockade between the cars, and tricking him out in the Bourbon colours, they hunted him round the prison; and then placing a rope round his neck, they hanged him with every sign of ignominy and contempt.
The staff proceeded to take up its quarters at Rathcormac. It consisted of Captain Bagley (the adjutant), Captain Gregg (paymaster), Walter Evans (quarter-master), forty sergeants, twenty corporals, twenty buglers, a sergeant-major, a bugler-major, a quarter-master sergeant, &c - 93 men in all, exclusive of the officers whose names we have just mentioned.
In May 1815 - just seven months after they had got the “dismiss” in Cork barracks - the regiment was again assembled at Fermoy, and they were then for the first time clothed and equipped as light infantry, the authorities not having permitted the new uniform to issue until the old one previously in use was worn out; and as the latter continued good for the residue of the time the regiment was embodied, they had no opportunity of donning the new regimentals until now. From Fermoy they marched to Clonmel, and from thence to Carlow, where they remained hard at drill until they were ordered back to Fermoy. Here they were again disembodied on St. Patrick’s Day, 1816. The staff removed to the quarters from whence it had issued just ten months before, and here it reposed, free from all the exciting scenes and dangers of a soldier’s life, for eight and thirty years.
During this long interval the old adjutant died; the old paymaster died; and the doctor and the quarter-master, too, discharged that great obligation which we must all fulfill; and of the 93 sergeants, corporals and buglers who marched out of Fermoy barracks in 1816, there were only three left to obey the bugle call in 1854.
On the 28th of March in that year, the war trumpet, whose thrilling notes had not been heard in the United Kingdom for more than the third of a century, again made the welkin ring with the call to arms, and England proclaimed war with Russia. The summons was ardently responded to. Young soldiers volunteered for immediate service, and wished they had been old enough to take a part in the great battle which has immortalized the plains of Waterloo; and old soldiers - even those who had suffered the disastrous Walcherin expedition, and who had endured fearful hardships in the retreat to Corunna - tendered their services too, and wished they were young once more, that they might fight their battles over again. Again the drums and fifes resound through our streets; the recruiting sergeant, with his drawn sword and many -coloured ribands streaming from his shako, invites the younger portion of his male audience to step forward like men, and take the shilling in the name of the Queen. A military ardour seizes on the public mind, and recruits in dozens join the ranks.
The 1st of February 1855, was a memorable day in the annals of the South Cork. On that day the old stand of colours, which had remained unseen for many a weary year, again stood erect, and waved proudly in the breeze. On that day the few survivors of the old corps looked thoughtfully on their young fellow-soldiers, and on the busy scene before them, as their minds strayed back to old associations and comrades of a former age; and on that day the regiment was originally enrolled upwards of 212 years before. Two hundred and four men answered to their names on the day of embodiment, and the following are the names of those who bore commissions in the regiment at that time:-
Colonel Hon. H. B. Bernard. Lieutenant S. S. Tresilian.
Lieut.-Colonel H. Wallis. “ J. H. Cole.
Major Hon. H. Freke “ R. White.
Captain P. Somerville. “ Frank Heard.
“ Hewitt Poole Ensign Chambro Baldwin.
“ Robert Heard “ Robert Holmes.
“ George Bowles “ C. Deane.
“ E. A. Shuldham “ W. P. Hosford.
“ R. T. Rye “ S. Hawkes
“ A. L. Newman “ W. H. Bird.
“ William Johnson. “ R. Agar.
“ Sir J. L. Cotter. “ J. H. Markham
“ H. D. J. Gaynor “ Adjutant Captain A. H. Lucas, late 45th Regiment.
Lieutenant W. Ryder Surgeon John G. Gregg.
“ William Bowles Quarter-Master D. Cummins.
“ J. R. Wheeler. Paymaster T. D. Perry, late captain, 81st Regiment.
“ M. C. Wall.
“ F. D. Cornwall
“ Godfrey Baldwin.
After remaining some time in Bandon, the regiment marched to Kinsale, where they received their new colours in July; and then, some months after, proceeded to Cork. They were only a few months there when they got route for Limerick, in which garrison, after the delay of only one week, they received orders for Dublin. On their arrival in our metropolis, they were quartered in the Palatine Square Royal Barracks; and throughout this kingdom there was no regiment more admired for its steadiness and discipline, than the gallant South Cork.
On the 30th of March, 1856, a treaty of peace was signed between Russia on one side, and England and her allies on the other; and in a few months afterwards, the regiment arrived in Cork barracks, where they were disembodied on the 12th of August, 1856.
During the eighteen months they were out, they gave upward of two hundred recruits to the line, and the following officers:- Lieutenant (499) J. R. Wheeler, to the 1st Foot, Lieutenant F. D. Cornwall, to the 62nd Foot, and Ensign Hawkes, to the 37th.
Upon the disembodiment, the staff, which consisted of the adjutant, the quarter-master, twenty seven sergeants, and ten buglers, were quartered where the regiment first drew its breath; where it first smelt powder and saw blood; where it received the thanks of the most memorable Parliaments of Great Britain; where the greatest general the world has ever seen since the era of the great Caesar, complimented them; and where her sons, comprising, as they did, its officers and rank and file, for more than the first sixty years of its existence, covered themselves with a glory which will endure as long as heroism will be admired.
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