Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/149

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111
HIS LIFE, POEMS AND SPEECHES.

no support to fall back upon, and that even if they drove the Canadians back, they were too weak to hold a position against any considerable force. Gen. O'Neill, who had been in their front under the hottest fire, cheering and rallying the men, then formed them up under cover and addressed them.

After some ineffective attempts by the officers to rally the men and lead them to the position on the hill which O'Neill wanted, the men fell back in rear of the hill.

This was virtually the end of the fighting. The Canadians still kept up a close fire on the hill, and the road leading to Alvah Bichards's house, where they knew that General Donnelly, with the reserve, was posted. The bullets of the volunteers swept every approach to the house, and Donnelly determined to hold it until night, and then evacuate.

The news of Gen. O'Neill's arrest[1] was a crushing blow to Gen. Donnelly and Col. Brown. Donnelly was so much affected that he walked away from his men some fifty yards, and bowing his face in his hands cried bitterly for several minutes. He returned to his men, calm and collected, and told them he would hold the place until night.

At about half-past three, a flag of truce was observed coming from the Canadian lines, and Gen. Donnelly ordered his men at once to cease firing. The volunteers who carried the flag came down to the line, and General Donnelly went to meet them. At first they asked Donnelly if he did not want to take away the body of Rowe, which lay in the center of the road about ten rods on the Canadian side of the line. They proposed some conditions to Gen. Donnelly, which your reporter, who accompanied him, could not hear. Gen. Donnelly drew himself up, proudly, and said: "Sir, go back and say that on those conditions I will never treat with you." He then turned and walked back to the farm-house, and the Canadians returned to their lines, the body of Rowe remaining on the road where he had fallen.

The Fenian troops on the hill, under command of Maj. Murphy, fell back to the old encampment, where a reinforcement of about fifty men had arrived from New York. They held a council of war, when the majority of officers decided to go to Malone, N. Y., but before doing so they would move to the assistance of Gen. Donnelly.

At six o'clock the solitary field-piece which represented the "parks of artillery" of the Fenians, was brought into position on the hill overlooking Richards's farm. Col. McGuinness of Boston directed its operations. The piece was loaded with round shot, and three or four missiles

  1. O'Neill was arrested by the United States Marshal near the house of Farmer Richards. He turned the command over to O'Reilly, who was also in turn arrested. Both were released after a brief detention.