Species of Fugitive Warfare

Initially the plan, according to Thomas Reynolds (who turned Government Informer), was to rise in assistance to a strong French force, many being assimilated into the main French body and disciplined. For the most part however, all they would have to do would be to harass the escorts of ammunition, cut off detachments and foraging parties, and, in essence make the King's troops feel themselves in every respect in an enemy's country. Reynolds had, however, described the plans of early 1798 when hope of a French invasion remained a primary factor in rebellion plans, and before the arrest in Bridge Street in March.

This plan had changed by April and May. The Kildaremen would advance in three columns; the one in the centre, being the main force, to join rebels in the county of Dublin, to march on the city. On the left the northern column would join some of the Meath forces at Kilcock, a detachment would remain to seal off the Boyne at Clonard. The right column would join with the Wicklow forces and all would combine with the forces in countyDublin. Lord Edward had risked discovery in April, at Palmerstown, while reconnoitring the proposed march from Kildare.

On Friday, 18 May, the plan was adopted by the Executive and plans were made to rise the following Wednesday night. It was far from unanimously accepted and had split the Executive. The Sheares brothers resigned to attempt a rising within Dublin which they believed would rouse the country and Lawless, disillusioned, fled the country. Whether these vents, or the subsequent arrests of Lord Edward and the Sheares brothers, affected these plans is uncertain.

Whatever happened to the plans, the men who rose made little effort to combine the various forces within Kildare or join with those in Meath and Wicklow. Their actions resembled the initial plans to aid the French; what Teeling called, a species of fugitive warfare and Lecky a predatory guerrilla war, involving a disjointed series of inconclusive hit and run defender type tactics rather than a serious attempt to engage the military.

Dundas had believed on 16 May that the Head of the Hydra was cut off and that imminent danger had abated. Camden, admittedly in a more national frame of mind, was not confident. He reported on 24 May, to the Duke of Portland, on the outbreak of the rebellion, in which it seemed, he was obvious to the danger of a rising, from the necessity of the United Irishmen; the intelligence continued in my last dispatches must have prepared your Grace to hear of some attempts being made by the Rebels to carry out their traitorous designs into the execution, before every possibility of success was destroyed by the vigorous measures which have lately been pursued.


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