« PreviousContinue »
force, driving them into their barracks for shelter, or hunting them out of the town. A mounted orderly was at once despatched to recall the troops, who quickly returned, the Lancers leading the way. Unawed by the presence of so formidable an array of 'horse, foot, and artillery,' the peasants fell on the Lancers, pouring volley after volley of stones into them, inflicting serious injuries on the commanding officers. The Lancers promptly charged, scattering the peasants, who had pushed close up to them, in all directions. But the main body of peasants still evinced a determination to hold their ground and to renew the conflict, when the Highlanders came up and opened fire on them. The peasants, many of whom had been wounded, then retreated, and order reigned in Doon.
On the 5th of September the Rev. Mr Gavin, rector of Wallstown, proceeded with a staff of valuers to value for tithes the lands in his parish.
Parson Gavin and his staff were accompanied by a party of police, a detachment of the 92d Highlanders, and a detachment of the 14th Foot; the whole force
ing under the command of one admiral, two generals, and three magistrates-Admiral Evans, General Barry, General Annesley, Gerald Nagel, Brazier Gray, and George Bond Low. It may be observed that the population of Wallstown consisted of 3163 Catholics and one Protestant.
Having valued a few farms without interruption, Mr Gavin and his imposing escort arrived about noon on the lands of 1832)
a strong' farmer named Blake. Blake seems to have been informed that his land could not be legally valued, as the crops upon it were growing crops. Blake gladly availed himself of the legal point thus suggested, to make a demonstration against the tithe system.
He collected a force of about 500 peasants, and posted them at the foot of a hill, upon its summit, and around it, thus occupying a commanding position. With about 200 men he himself, accompanied by a man named Doyle (who seems to have been practically the leader of the insurgents), took his stand on the right of the hill, commanding one of two by-roads which led from the main thoroughfare into his farm. On the left side of the hill, at some distance from Blake's party, and commanding the other by-road, about 150 peasants were placed, under the leadership of a man named Ryan. In the fields of another farm, which was separated from Blake's land by the main road, more peasants were placed, clearly with the design of hanging on the rear of any hostile force which might move along the road. The peasants were armed with sticks, slanes, reaping-hooks and pitchforks. They were also supplied, though not very plentifully, with stones. Having arrived at the gate opening into Blake's farm, Admiral Evans (who was chief in command of the police and soldiers) halted. Observing the position and attitude of the peasants, the admiral held a council of war, and it was decided that the police and Highlanders, under the command of General Annesley, should enter the farm, and that the 14th, under the direction of Lieutenant Grierson and the magistrates, should remain on the high road to watch the peasants in the rear, and to await orders. While the admiral was hold. ing a council of war, Blake advanced to the gate and asked what the soldiers and police wanted. “We have come,' said the admiral, 'with the Rev. Mr Gavin to see the valuation quietly carried out, and I hope there will be no resistance, and that you will ask the peasants to disperse.' Blake answered, 'I will not, sir, if I can, allow my land to be valued for the tithe.' 'But we are determined that the valuation shall be carried out and the law obeyed ; open the gate quietly and let us in.' 'I will not open the gate,' said Blake, 'and if the valuers come on the land we'll drive them off. Blake then withdrew and joined the peasants at the hillside. Admiral Evans ordered the gate to be forced open. This being done, the police and the Highlanders entered, and took up their position in the field facing the hill, where peasants were stationed.
The police were placed in the front rank, and the High. landers, under General Annesley, ordered to form squares a short distance behind them. Having made his dispositions, Admiral Evans rode up to the peasants and called upon them to disperse.
'Let us have no disturbance,' he said ; 'do not attempt to resist the law. “We will resist,' said Doyle, who now stood at the head of the peasants; we won't yield a foot but by force.'
'I beg of you,' urged the admiral, 'not to be so obstinate. I will go on my knees to beg of you to retire.' 'It will do you no good,' said Doyle; 'lives will have to be lost on some side before the valuation is carried out to-day.' "You leave me no alternative,' said the admiral. “I must now read the Riot Act.' He then read the Act, and said, 'I now call upon you, in the name of the law, to disperse. The peasants shouted back, "We won't. No tithes ! No church! No minister! No bye-laws !' Evans then returned to his men, and in a loud voice gave the order to ‘Prime and load; ball cartridge.' 'I gave this order in a loud voice,' Admiral Evans subsequently said, 'in the hope that the peasants would be frightened at the sound of the “ball cartridge,” but they remained unmoved. Evans next directed the valuers to go forward and commence their work. The valuers did so, but when they had gone some way from the soldiers and police, a handful of peasants rushed at them, driving them right out of the field on to the roadway. Admiral Evans then said to General Annesley, “There is nothing for it ; I must fire.' Instructions were next sent by General Annesley to Lieutenant Grierson to work round to the rear of the peasants, driving the men in the fields across the road before him, and dispersing Ryan's party, by whom the flank of Doyle's ' division' was protected. While these instructions were being carried out by Grierson, the peasants, under Doyle, had thrown themselves into a position of attack, the pitchforks being, to use Lieutenant
Grierson's words, presented at the charge. “For the last time I call upon you to disperse,' shouted Admiral Evans from his place at the head of the police. 'Never,' shouted back Doyle from his place at the head of the peasants. 'Present arms-fire,' said the admiral, repeating the last words thrice.
The police fired, but not apparently, with very much effect. The fire was almost immediately returned by a volley of stones, and then Doyle, placing himself at the head of his men, roared, “Now, boys, at them! Hurrah for O'Connell ! Faugh a ballagh !'1 In a moment, and with a spring, the peasants were upon the police, who, surprised by the quickness and audacity of the attack, gave way, and Doyle and his followers, cutting boldly through their ranks, suddenly came face to face with the Highlanders. Doyle was a prudent fellow, and quickly shouted to his comrades, ‘Back, back;' whereupon the peasants halted in front of the squares. For a moment there was a pause. In the centre of one of the squares, apparently in a place of assured safety, sat Parson Gavin, on horseback. One of the peasants, catching sight of him, seized a reaping-hook, to which a long cord was attached, and flinging it with much dexterity straight for the rector, landed it securely on his reverence's neck. This successful feat was received with a burst of cheers and laughter from the peasants. The peasant of the reaping-hook tugged vigorously at the cord, almost pulling
i Clear the way.