Savage letter to Philip Perceval

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Letter to Philip Percivall  (1647) 
by Valentine Savage

This is an account of Battle of Dungan's Hill. It was written by Valentine Savage who is described in the volume in which the letter is archived as "a young friend who worked under [Philip Percivall. Later] officially, to be his deputy as Clerk of the Parliament and Registrar of the Wards."

  • Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons . Historical Manuscripts Commission. Report on the manuscripts of the Earl of Egmont. Vol. I. Part II. (Percival family) pp. 444–446

1647, August 9. [Dublin.]—In many former letters I have told you of our losses and miseries, and now that the tide has altered, I must tell you of our victory.

On the first of this instant, being the Sabbath, Col. Jones marched hence with all the foot and horse he could make and seven pieces of ordnance, whereof two demi culverin, and although it was conceived that they would mutiny before they marched, yet by the good example of Col. Flower, Col. Baily, Col. Willoughby and Col. Castle's regiments, who led the van and whose soldiers loved and honoured their officers, they marched without any stop or the least seeming grumbling, and quartered at Swords that night. On Wednesday they were met with some fourteen hundred horse and foot of the Scotch, and what forces Drogheda and Dundalk could make, under the conduct of Sir Henry Titchborne. On Thursday they advanced to Trim, whereof the enemy having notice drew themselves into Port Lester the day following. The same day our men marched over the bridge of Trim towards the enemy. On Saturday the enemy stole away and got towards this place with an intent to take it, and left tents and colours standing to deceive our men at Port Lester, but Col. Jones had about three or four o'clock in the afternoon intelligence that they were marched, and sent some commanded horse under Sir Thomas Armstrong, Capt. Cadoogan and Lieut. Crofton severally to observe which way they marched, who returned him word they marched towards this place, whereupon he despatched Major Stephens and Lieut. Bennett with some sixteen horse about five o'clock at night with letters to the Earl of Kildare (whom he appointed Governor in his absence, and who hath been as vigilant as ever I knew man in his employment since the Governor's absence), to take care of himself and the city, giving him to understand of the enemy's intention and withal a promise to be here the next day to our relief, which letters came in about ten a clock at night, and thereupon the Earl caused all the protestants and soldiers in town to stand to their arms all night (who indeed have done little else ever since the Governor's departure hence, by reason of alarums of the rebels' stealing of the cows from all places within a quarter of a mile of town).

But it fortuned that on Sunday Col. Jones overtook the enemy near Linches Knock, who were not to fight with us, as you will see by Preston's private instructions, but seeing our horse would gall their rear if they did not, they drew up their army in a very advantageous piece of ground on a hill [Dungan hill] and placed near a thousand musketeers in hedges over which our men must of necessity go, and played with their ordnance upon our men before they could either draw up ordnance or draw into battalia; but Col. Jones put the van into battalia, and drew up our ordnance, and played very hot with them, but did the enemy very little hurt with them more than terrify them; and God and a good cause encouraged our men so that neither their ordnance nor ambushes of musketeers could deter them, for our foot never discharged a musket until they were within half pistol shot of their ditches, nor our horse until they discharged in their breasts, so that in short time the rebels' horse were put to flight and their foot to rout to a bog, whom our horse and foot environed, and slew most of them. There were slain of the rebels between four and five thousand men, whereof many were of the gentry. There were a hundred and forty or a hundred and fifty prisoners of quality taken, the chief whereof were Lieut. General Hugh McPhelim Birne, the Earl of Westmeath, Col. Warren, Col. Browne of Mulranckau, Col. Butler, a nephew of Preston's, Lieut. Col. Walter Crusse, Lieut. Col. Jenico Rochford, Lieut.-Col. Synnott, Lieut.-Col. Chris. FitzGerald the lawyer, five majors, thirty-three captains. We took their ordnance, whereof two sakers and two demi culverin, all their baggage and some six thousand arms. This was the greatest victory that ever was obtained in this kingdom; I pray God enable us to be thankful to him for it and to make a right use of it. And now that God hath blessed us, and acted his part in shewing how these blood-thirsty rebels may be destroyed, I beseech you let not your endeavours be wanting to that most honourable assembly to procure relief of men, money and other necessaries, as whole cannon, &c., whereby this victory which God hath given us may be so prosecuted this summer and winter that they may never be able to make head again.

I had almost forgot to tell you that in this fight God did favour us so that there were not forty of our men slain, the chief whereof was one of the Harmans, Cornet Graunt and Capt.-Lieut. Gibbs, who was killed with too much labour and the smoke, neither was there any but did discharge his duty gallantly; but above all it is reported that the Lord Moore, Lord Grandison, Col. Marckes Trevor, Sir Robert King's son and Col. Jones himself fought more like lions than men. I protest I heard Lieut.-Col. Yarner and Lieut. Crofton (who came home hurt) say that they verily thought that the Lord Grandison had killed near thirty men with his own hands, and did believe the rest had killed near as many apiece. Sir Robert King's son is shot in the arm, run into the hand, and his nose is almost cut off ; Col. Hungerford shot in the mouth. Col. Long in the leg ; Lieut. Sacheverell hath lost a piece of his nose and many other hurt which will be too tedious to name."

If you would be pleased to bestow your company here upon me, I would hand anything over to you gained beyond the 21s. 6d. weekly, captain's pay, and doubt not you might have a better command if you ever come over. I hope the enemy will be shortly forced from Castlewarning.

Postscript. — I should not desire to be more than your lieutenant but that there is but 10s. a week allowed, which will not support me.

The army is coming home to-day for to refresh themselves, or for want of pay.

The Lord Digby, hearing Preston's cabinet to be taken, is fled from Leixlip, and Sir Nicholas White is likewise. Some letters of Barnewall of Kilbrewes are taken and he committed for them, and they say deserves hanging, which I hope he will not escape. . . .

Since the above the rebels have quitted Castlewarning and burnt the out-housing and Sigginstowne and Cottlanstowne but they were favourable to Harristowne and Mr. Warren's."

2¾ pp. Endorsed by Sir Philip as received on the 18th.