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The Story of Ireland By Emily Lawless Characters: 3685

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05

The indescribable confusion of aims and parties in Ireland begins at this point to take even more rapid and perplexing turns. That "poor panther Inchiquin," as one of his opponents derisively calls him, who had already made one bound from king to Parliament, now, upon some fresh offence, bounded back again, and made overtures to Preston and the Moderates. Rinucini, whose only policy was to hinder any union between the Catholics and Royalists, thereupon fled to O'Neill, and together they opposed the Moderates tooth and nail. The latter were now seriously anxious to make terms with the Royalists. The king's trial was beginning, and his peril served to consolidate all but the most extreme. Ormond himself returned late in 1648 from France; Prince Rupert arrived early the following year with a small fleet of ships off Kinsale, and every day brought crowds of loyal gentlemen to Ireland as to a final vantage ground upon which to try a last desperate throw for the royal cause.

In Dublin the command, upon Ormond's surrender, had been given by the Parliament to Colonel Michael Jones, a Puritan officer, who had greatly distinguished himself in the late war. The almost ludicrously involved state into which things had got is seen by the fact that Jones, though himself the leader of the Parliamentary forces, struck up at this juncture a temporary alliance with O'Neill, and instructed Monk who was in the north, to support him. The king's death brought all the Royalists, and most of the more moderate rebels into line at last. Rinucini, feeling that whatever happened, his project of a separate Ireland had become impossible, fled to Italy. Even O'Neill, finding that his alliance with Jones was not prospering, and that the stricter Puritans declined with horror the bare idea of holding any communication with him or his forces,

gave in his adhesion. Old Irish and Anglo-Irish, Protestant and Catholic, North and South, all at last were in arms for the king. The struggle had thus narrowed itself. It was now practically between Dublin, commanded by Jones, the Parliamentary general, upon one side, and all Ireland under Ormond and the now united Confederates on the other. Cromwell, it was known, was preparing for a descent upon Ireland, and had issued liberal offers of the forfeited Irish lands to all who would aid him in the enterprise. He had first, however, to land, and there was nowhere that he could do so excepting at Dublin or Londonderry. All the efforts therefore of the Royalists were concentrated upon taking the capital before it became the starting-point of a new campaign. Marching hastily from Kilkenny, Ormond established himself at a place called Baggotrath, near Rathmines, and close to the


(From an engraving by White, after a picture by Kneller.)

walls of the town. Two nights after his arrival he sent forward a body of men under Colonel Purcell to try and effect a surprise. Jones, however, was on the alert; drove Purcell back, and, following him with all the men at his command, fell upon Ormond's camp, where no proper watch was being kept. The surprise was thus completely reversed. Six thousand of the confederate troops were killed or forced to surrender, and Ormond, with the remainder, had to fall back upon Kilkenny.

The battle of Baggotrath does not figure amongst the more famous battles of this period, but it was certainly the turning-point of the Irish campaign. With his crippled forces, Ormond was unable again to take the field, and Jones was therefore left in undisputed possession of Dublin. A week later, in August, 1649, Cromwell had landed there with 12,000 troops at his back.

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