More Confederate Divisions

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XXIX

Rinuccini now took a high hand. He entered Kilkenny in state, on the 18th of September, and committed the members of the Supreme Council as prisoners to the Castle, except Darcy and Plunket. A new Council was appointed, or self-appointed, on the 20th, of which the Nuncio was chosen President. The imprisonment of the old Council was undoubtedly a harsh and unwise proceeding, which can scarcely be justified; but the times were such that prompt action was demanded, and the result alone, which could not be foreseen, could justify or condemn it.

The Generals were again at variance; and although the new Council had decided on attacking Dublin, their plans could not be carried out. Preston was unquestionably playing fast and loose; and when the Confederate troops did march towards Dublin, his duplicity ruined the cause which might even then have been gained. A disgraceful retreat was the result. An Assembly was again convened at Kilkenny; the old Council was released; the Generals promised to forget their animosities: but three weeks had been lost in angry discussion; and although the Confederates bound themselves by oath not to lay down their arms until their demands were granted, their position was weakened to a degree which the selfishness of the contending parties made them quite incapable of estimating.

The fact was, the Puritan faction in England was every day gaining an increase of power; while every hour that the Confederate Catholics wasted in discussion or division, was weakening their moral strength. Even Ormonde found himself a victim to the party who had long made him their tool, and was ordered out of Dublin unceremoniously, and obliged eventually to take refuge in France. Colonel Jones took possession of Dublin Castle for the rebel forces, and defeated Preston in a serious engagement at Dungan Hill, soon after his arrival in Ireland. O'Neill now came to the rescue; and even the Ormondists, having lost their leader, admitted that he was their only resource. His admirable knowledge of military tactics enabled him to drive Jones into Dublin Castle, and keep him there for a time almost in a state of siege.