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Bagley addressed the men behind the barricade, requesting them to permit the troops to enter the boreen. The men answered, No tithes ! no parson! You have no right to come in. Bagley replied, 'We shall force an entrance if you do not give way. The peasants again shouted, “No tithes ! no parson ! no church !' After some further discussion between the magistrates and the peasants, and a good deal of cheering on the part of the latter, Bagley at last said, 'My good people, be silent, I am going to read the Riot Act.' We want none of your bye-laws here,' shouted back the leader of the peasants, and then, turning to his own followers, called out, as Bagley began to read the Act, 'To the haggard, boys ! to the haggard ! We'll defend it, or lose our lives !' And for the haggard, with a rush, and cries of ‘No tithes ! no tithes !' the peasants made. Bagley, having read the Riot Act, ordered the police to throw down the barricade. This they quickly did, whereupon the troops entered the boreen, the dragoons leading
On approaching the haggard the dragoons halted, and the 29th marched forward. On reaching the haggard wall the 29th halted, and Major Waller, sent to Captain Bagley for further instructions.
Bagley said, 'You must dislodge the peasants from the haggard and the yard. If they do not go quietly, you must try the bayonet. If that is not sufficient, you must fire; but do not fire except in the last resort.' Major Waller then directed Lieutenant Alves to attack the haggard with some of the men of the 29th, and
Lieutenant Shepherd to attack the yard with others. The dragoons and police were stationed in the boreen between the haggard and the main road, to prevent any advance of the peasants from that quarter. Hostilities were commenced by Archdeacon Ryder, who, acting upon his own responsibility, succeeded, all by himself, in clambering over the wall and entering the haggard. He was seized by the peasants, neck and crop, and literally flung back into the boreen. Alves then mounted the wall, and waving his sword, called on his men to 'follow.' Seeing Alves on the wall, the leader of the peasants shouted to his comrades, ‘Don't let him in! Don't let him in! Don't strike him ; but don't let him in!' A number of peasants quickly rushed forward and brandished their sticks close up in front of Alves. Alves parried the sticks with his sword, while his men climbed on to the wall. Many of the soldiers, having got on top of the wall, were about to pull up some of their comrades and to descend on the inside, when the peasant leader roared to his companions, 'Now, boys, at them ;' and the peasants (sticks, slanes and pitchforks in hand) made for the soldiers. A fierce fight ensued; the peasants striking furiously at the soldiers with their formidable weapons, and the soldiers vigorously thrusting back with their bayonets. Again and again the soldiers climbed to the top of the wall, and again and again they were driven back, maimed and bruised, with their bayonets bent and their firelocks smashed, many of the peasants having been placed hors de combat by bayonet wounds. After this struggle had continued for some time, Lieutenant Alves called out to Major Waller, “We cannot, major, take this place by the bayonet,' whereupon Archdeacon Ryder rushed up to Captain Bagley, crying out, What are we to do, we are so resisted ?
Simultaneously with the struggle at the haggard, Lieutenant Shepherd was endeavouring to force his way into the yard. He had succeeded in jumping into the cart, followed by two of his men, while the rest climbed up the wall at either side, when the peasants rushed forward, and, seizing the shafts and lifting them high in the air, rolled Shepherd and his companions clean back into the boreen. However, he soon returned to the attack, and a fight, even more desperate than that being waged at the haggard, followed. The soldiers charged with the bayonet again, but to little purpose. Enter the yard they could not, either over the wall or by mounting the cart. Then, finding it was hopeless to take either the haggard or yard by the bayonet, Major Waller gave directions to his lieutenants to fire. Alves' men fired first. After they had done so, Major Waller, who, from his position in the boreen could command a better view of what was going on in the yard than in the haggard, tells us that he looked in the direction of the yard to see what effect Alves' fire had produced there. It produced no effect,' he says; "the fight went on as violently as ever.' Shepherd, on hearing Alves fire, called to Waller, saying, 'Major, must I
fire?' and Waller answered, "Yes.' Shepherd, turning to the peasants, then said, 'Now, if you do not give way, I must fire.' The leader of the peasants then replied, “We are not afraid to die ; lives must be lost on either side before ye come in.'
There was no alternative now left to Shepherd but to give the word 'fire.' This he promptly did. 'I then,' says Major Waller, 'looked in the direction of the cart to see the effect. The crowd dispersed after the fire, but quickly closed up, and rushed back to the cart as thick as ever.' Such truly had been the case.
The peasants, thrown but for a moment into confusion, quickly rallied, and as their leader called out, 'Never flinch, my boys ! close up, and at them again !' flung themselves once more on the soldiers—who, under the cover of the fire, had jumped into the cart, and clambered over the wall—driving them back with eminent success. But sticks, slanes and pitchforks, though weapons, which, in the hands of a martial peasantry, could be effectively used against bayonets, were poor instruments of defence against powder and ball. After a struggle, to the gallantry of which Lieutenant Shepherd bore testimony, asserting that he had never seen such determined bravery as shown by the people on that day,' the peasantry gave way under the sustained fire of the troops, retreating steadily to the shrubbery. Major Waller then occupied the haggard and the yard. The peasants had not, however, it seems, been completely disposed of. They are mustering in the shrubbery,' said Captain
Colles to Waller ; 'you must disperse them.' 'No,' replied Waller, who doubtless had had quite enough of the work which, in all bability, he did not consider particularly clean. 'I'll surround the farmyard, and keep what I have got; for, if I leave it, the peasants will come back, and I shall have my work all over again.' At this juncture Archdeacon Ryder came up and said, 'All right, major, I have got my tithes.' It seems that the archdeacon—who had performed various strategical movements on his own account during the day (including the escapade in the haggard)—had succeeded in taking the widow's house in the rear, while the battle was raging in front, with the result that he saw the widow, and obtained the tithes from her. It was this cheerful fact which he now announced to Waller. The parson being satisfied, all were satisfied, and Major Waller and Lieutenant Tait marched their men back to Cork. The soldiers gone, the peasants emerged from the shrubbery to take up their comrades who had fallen in the fray, and to find that the casualties had been considerable; twelve peasants were killed and forty-two wounded.
Rathcormac produced a profound effect on the English Tory minister, Sir Robert Peel, and in February 1835 he introduced a Bill practically making tithes wholly payable by the landlords (who were chiefly Protestants) and thus, to some extent, relieving the tenants (who were almost entirely Catholics) from the burden of the obnoxious impost. But the English Liberals (who were now supported in parliament by a