The Belfast News-Letter, 25-29 August 1786
|I R E L A N D.|
| Cork, August 21. On Sunday
the 13th inst. as a corporal and six privates of the 4th regiment of foot, were
escorting Darby Ahern and Cornelius Coughlan, to the gaol of this county, under
the committal of Augustus Warren, Esq, on a charge of their being White Boys,
they were surrounded near the Ovens, within six miles of this city, by many
hundreds of peasantry from the neighbouring parishes. They attempted to rescue
the prisoners, when the corporal of the party addressed the misguided multitude
in a speech of near ten minutes, and which would reflect honour on one in a more
elevated station in life—he with amazing ability and coolness expostulated on
the dangerous tendency of the attempt— earnestly entreated them to desist, and
that it was not his intention, or his wish to hurt one of them, and though many
may escape, should they provoke him to extremities, yet the hand of justice
would overtake them some time or other, and make them atone for so flagrant a
violation of the laws. He also fully explained his duty as a commander of the
escort and in the most pathetic manner painted the fatal consequences that must
ensue if their perserverance laid him under the necessity to fire among them.
The situation of the corporal and his party at this moment, was truly alarming—crowds were before and behind him on the road, and the insides of the ditches were lined with people, armed with sticks and stones, who resolved to rescue the prisoners, not minding what was told them, they began the attack. The corporal immediately cut the strings of the prisoners small cloaths, and declared if they moved but as he did, they would be instantly shot, he then formed a circle, or hollow square with his six men round the prisoners, and kept up a continual fire of one shot at a time, moving on as well as his situation would permit him, and with great difficulty got to the house of Major Dumass, at Coolroe, about two miles from the place where the action commenced, and nearer Cork.
Unluckily the Major was from home, but Mrs. Dumass rendered the corporal and his party every assistance, by letting them into the house to defend themselves from the assailants, and kindly procured a trusty messenger to carry a note from the corporal to Mr. Hawkes, the neighbouring Justice, who instantly came, and by his spirited exertions, prevented any further attack, until a company of men marched from this city, who safely conducted the prisoners to gaol.
The number of killed and wounded are not yet particularly known; reports say nine killed, and thirty wounded, and we have great reason to believe it may be true, as there were seventy-two shots discharged, and the situation of the regulars obliged them to fire deliberatley and with effect. The manoeuvres of our gallant corporal is truly praise-worthy; we are happy to hear, that neither he or his little army suffered much in this affray, except a few contortions from some of the stones, but no way dangerous.
Submitted by dja
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