First Few Days

Dundas heard the news of the outbreak at breakfast, at Castlemartin on the morning of 24 May. A few miles away at Old Kilcullen, rebels began gathering in an old churchyard at the top of a steep hill. Dundas had only a small force at his command but moved to engage the rebels who were about 300 strong and armed with pikes. Captain Erskine (the villian of Kilkea, Geraldine and Ballitore) of the Ninth Dragoons and Captain Cooke of the Romney Fencibles ludicrously charged the determined pikemen who held all the advantage of the ground. Both men were killed, in all almost 30 troops lost their lives.

Dundas retreated to KilcullenBridge and augmented his force with about 100 yeomen under Captain LaTouche. The rebels had also greatly enlarged their force and had formed themselves on high ground, cutting, off Dundas? retreat to Naas. He sent two parties forward with orders not to engage and drew the rebels down the hills into the sights of the muskets. The troops completely routed the United forces. Instead of consolidating his victory he retreated to Naas in accordance with the general orders from the Castle to concentrate in the towns.

It was now nearly twenty-four hours since the first rebel parties had assembled for the assault on the capital. Fourteen engagements had followed and in every single case, except two, the meanest little garrison of soldiers had managed to repulse the rebel army. Troops were drawn in from Kildare, Clane, Sallins, Ballitore, Monasterevin and Rathangan, although Athy remained secure, the messenger carrying the orders to Colonel Campbell was killed on the way. The rebels therefore were left in control of much of the country. It was however a transitory and transparent victory for the United forces and one not unmarked by extremes of violence. While Catholic loyalists were spared many Protestant loyalists were murdered, like Stamers at Prosperous, Yeates at Ballitore and the Crawfords at Kildare.

Rebel attacks, were beaten off at Kilcock, Leixlip and Lucan. At Monasterevin nearly 1300 rebels under Captain Padraig O?Beirne were defeated by a small yeomanry force under Frederick Hoystead, fourteen of whom were Catholics.

Many Kildaremen had joined the United forces on Tara Hill, only to witness the destruction and dispersion of the Meath organisation in that battle. Others under Captain Doorly succeeded in capturing Rathangan although their success was marred by the killing of Captain Spenser (the aged agent of the Duke of Leinster), Moore his yeoman first Lieutenant and seventeen other men. Rebels also took Narraghmore where three yeomen were murdered. The retribution of the military proved equally severe. At Dunlavin and Carnew over 50 prisoners were summarily executed, although they had no part in the rising.


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