Battle of the Yellow Ford

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XXVII

The contingent set out for Armagh on the 14th of August, and soon reached the Yellow Ford, about two miles from that city, where the main body of the Irish had encamped. They were at once attacked on either flank by skirmishers from the hostile camp; but the vanguard of the English army advanced gallantly to the charge, and were soon in possession of the first entrenchments of the enemy. Although Bagnal's personal valour is unquestionable, he was a bad tactician. His leading regiment was cut to pieces before a support could come up; his divisions were too far apart to assist each other. Bagnal raised the visor of his helmet for one moment, to judge more effectually of the scene of combat, and that moment proved his last. A musket ball pierced his forehead, and he fell lifeless to the ground. Almost at the same moment an ammunition waggon exploded in his ranks—confusion ensued. O'Neill took advantage of the panic; he charged boldly; and before one o'clock the rout had become general.

The English officers and their men fled to Armagh, and shut themselves up in the Cathedral; but they had left twenty-three officers and 1,700 rank and file dead or dying on the field. "It was a glorious victory for the rebels," says Camden, "and of special advantage; for thereby they got both arms and provisions, and Tyrone's name was cried up all over Ireland. Ormonde thought that the "devil had bewitched Bagnal," to leave his men unsupported; the Irish annalists thought that Providence had interfered wonderfully on their behalf.[2] O'Neill retired for a time to recruit his forces, and to rest his men; and a revolt was organized under his auspices in Munster, with immense success. O'Donnell was making rapid strides; but a new Viceroy was on his way to Ireland, and it was hoped by the royalist party that he would change the aspect of affairs.


[2] Behalf.—The Four Masters give copious details of this important engagement, which O'Donovan has supplemented with copious notes, vol. vi. pp. 2061-2075.