The Battle of the Crown Forces to Re-take Prosperous
On Tuesday 19th June 1798, almost 4 weeks on from the battle of Prosperous, a three-pronged attack was launched against the rebels in north Kildare and their stronghold, the village of Prosperous.
Colonel Irwin lead a strong force of nearly 400 men, composed of Highlanders, Dragoon Guards and four troops of yeoman cavalry out from Kilcock to cut off any possible retreat of the rebels to the north of the village and to support two other attacks that were directed towards Prosperous from the south and west.
On their march towards the bogs lying to the north of Prosperous, the troops unexpectedly came upon a large rebel camp near Ovidstown. This was the main north Kildare rebel force under the command of colonel William Aylmer, a battle ensued with the rebels suffering a crushing defeat along with a great number of casualties. (see battle of Ovidstown)
Meanwhile, Captain Pack of the 5th Dragoon Guards had advanced on Prosperous from Rathangan. He came up against a hundred of the rebels, well mounted & appointed, clothed mostly in yeomanry uniforms, he instantly launched an attack and defeated them, taking eight horses and killing between 20 – 30 men.
Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis
In 1798 he was appointed Lord Lieutenant and Commander-in-chief of Ireland.
He oversaw the response to the 1798 Irish Rebellion, including a French invasion of Ireland.
The third attack was delivered directly against the village by Lord Castlereagh’s brother, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Stewart. This force, marched out from Naas with men from the City of Cork and Armagh Militia, the Suffolk Fencibles, the Royal Irish, the Ninth and North Naas Dragoons, (nearly 200 men), and two curricle guns.
On arrival at Prosperous his troops noticed rebels on a hill to the left:
“Yesterday, at Prosperous, Co. Kildare, an action took place in which that town has been nearly consumed by fire. The Rebels assembled in great force but were defeated with proportionate slaughter. They were headed by a person of the name Aylmer [Aylmer was commander of the north Kildare United Irishmen, but was in Ovidstown at this time], to whom a fellow named Lynch, lately residing in Lucan, acted as aid-de-camp. A standard [Flag] was hoisted by the Rebels made of green Serge, with a yellow cross in the centre and underneath, as if worked on a ribbon, the words, “Erin go Bragh”, this ensign of the rebellion, together with the hand of him who held it, was shot away. The rebels fled down into the village and the bog to the rear of it. The advance guard, on approaching the village, was fired on by the rebels from the windows of the houses and was ordered to fall back”.
The colonel over the City of Cork Militia had a private vendetta against the rebels of Prosperous who had killed so many of his men including his relative, Captain Swayne.
Stewart positioned the two curricle guns on the road, protected by the cavalry and the infantry, and fired on the village.
“The rebels soon fled into the bog and I ransacked and burnt this receptacle of rebellion.’
The soldiers found many cattle penned up, pikes in abundance and even some drums. Stewart lamented that his orders prevented him from following the rebels into the hills which, he felt, stopped the troops from proving their worth”.
Without local knowledge of the immense bogs of north Kildare, it would have been perilous for the King’s forces to try to engage the rebels on such unpredictable terrain. This force returned to Naas and Prosperous was once again in rebel hands.
Lieutenant Colonel Charles Stewart (in a hussar's uniform)
Lieutenant Colonel of the 5th Royal Irish Dragoons attacked the rebels at Prosperous on the 19th June 1798.
The regiment served during the rebellion of 1798; but its discipline became so bad that it was disbanded on 8 April 1799.
He marched out from Naas with men from the City of Cork and Armagh Militia, the Suffolk Fencibles, the Royal Irish, the Ninth and North Naas Dragoons, (nearly 200 men), and two curricle guns.
19th of June Battle Report
Captain Denis Pack
Captain Denis Pack (26) of the 5th Dragoon Guards had advanced on Prosperous from Rathangan.
He came up against a hundred of the rebels, well mounted & appointed, clothed mostly in yeomanry uniforms,
he instantly launched an attack and defeated them, taking eight horses and killing between 20 – 30 men.
Map of the attacking forces on Prosperous village on Tuesday 19th June 1798.