French Route from Connaught - 1798 Irish Rebellion

French Route from Connaught - 1798 Irish Rebellion Geography Visual Arts World History Tragedies and Triumphs

This map depicts the route General Humbert and his French and Irish forces took after their victory at Castlebar. 

The end of the road, for the French, was surrender at Ballinamuck when they were completely outnumbered.  They would go home, in a few weeks, back to their own lives in France (or wherever Napoleon Bonaparte sent them). 

For the Irish rebels, however, the end of the road at Ballinamuck meant something quite different.  Would surrender mean that their rebellion of 1798 was over?  Many of the Irishmen decided to keep fighting, even after their French allies had turned-over their swords.

We learn more about the Irish rebels, and their actions at this moment, from The French Invasion of Ireland in '98 (by Valerian Gribayedoff).  In Chapter VII, of his 1890 book, he tells the story of people who would not give-up:

As far as the French were concerned the battle was ended. But now the most horrible act in the drama was to be played.

The unfortunate rebels, who still numbered several hundreds, expecting no quarter, fought on with the frenzy of despair. Driven from the guns which they had helped to serve, not without loss to the foe, they fled into a bog and were here surrounded by horse, foot and artillery.

Lake's hour of revenge had sounded, and he made full use of his opportunity. Raked with a galling cross-fire from all points, sabred by the horsemen and bayoneted by the infantry, there soon remained but a skeleton of the solid column that had stood side by side with Humbert's troops at the beginning of the battle; and those who finally were allowed to lay down their arms only exchanged the bullet or sword for the rope. Here is what one eye-witness has written:

"We pursued the rebels through the bog - the country was covered for miles around with their slain. We remained for a few days burying the dead - hung General Blake and nine of the Longford militia; we brought one hundred and thirteen prisoners to Carrick-on-Shannon, nineteen of whom we executed in one day, and left the remainder for others to follow our example!"

"They are hanging rebels here by twenties together," wrote an officer of the Reay Fencibles to his friends. "It is a melancholy sight, but necessary."

And here are another eye-witness' words: "There lay dead about five hundred; I went next day with many others to see them; how awful! to see that heathy mountain covered with dead bodies, resembling at a distance flocks of sheep - for numbers were naked and swelled with the weather. We found fifteen of the Longford militia among the slain."

Click on the image for a better view of the map.

Media Credits

Map image, depicted above, from Chapter VII of The French Invasion of Ireland in '98 (by Valerian Gribayedoff), published in 1890.  Image online, courtesy Library Ireland.



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"French Route from Connaught - 1798 Irish Rebellion" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Feb 27, 2020.
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