Limerick, June 16th, (1646).

When the two Generals, Owen Roe and Phelim O’Neill, had been reconciled by the good offices of the Nuncio, they joined their forces and encamped on the confines of Leinster. Owen O’Neill hearing that the Scotch under Colonel Monroe were in the county of Tyrone, determined to advance towards them; and having given orders that every soldier should carry provisions for sixteen days he marched forward, and advanced sixty miles into Ulster.

The enemy hearing of the intention of the Catholics to move towards the city of Armagh, wasted the country through which they were to pass, and at last arrived within a mile of their outposts at a place called Benburb, on Friday the 5th of the present month, when both armies took up their positions with great skill. The Scotch had ten regiments of infantry and fifteen companies of horse, followed by 1,500 carts carrying ammunition and baggage, and five pieces of cannon for each company. Our forces consisted of nearly 5,000 infantry and eight troops of horse only, which enhances the valour and skill of the generals, the courage of the soldiers and the miracle of the victory. The first preparations on the part of the Catholics deserve notice. The whole army confessed, and Owen O’Neill with the other generals piously partook of the holy sacrament; the testimonials of their confession were given by the hands of O’Neill to one of the generals of the Observatines deputed by the Nuncio to the spiritual care of the army, who after a short exhortation pronounced the Apostolic benediction, and instantly calling on the name of His Holiness, they rushed to the conflict.

The Scotch cannon opened the battle, but after many rounds only one Catholic soldier was killed. Hand to hand they fought for four hours with such valour that it was impossible to know which side had the advantage, although the Catholics besides being fewer in number, had the disadvantage of the sun and wind in their faces; this last however, as if by a miracle, began to fall soon after the commencement of the battle. At length the general perceiving that the Scotch were about to retire, and assuring his troops that retreat must be fatal to the enemy he gave the order to charge, promising them certain victory. ‘I,’ he exclaimed, ‘aided by God, and the good augury of the benediction which we have just received, will go before you all; and let the man who refuses to follow me remember that here he deserted his leader.’ At these words a universal cheer rose from the army, and the colonels all dismounting in order to cut off their return, the whole body rushed forward with incredible ferocity.

The Catholic horse broke the opposing squadron, and having come to pikes and swords the Puritans began to give way disordered and confounded, so that at last they were dispersed or remained dead on the field; even every common soldier on our side being satiated with blood and plunder. Those killed on the field have been counted to the number of 3,243.

It is impossible to know how many were killed in flight, but as the slaughter continued for two days after the battle it is certain that of the infantry not one escaped; of the cavalry but few remain, and baggage, cannon, stores, tents, all were taken; General Monroe fled wounded, and his hat, sword and cloak were found upon the field; twenty-one officers only are prisoners, all the rest were killed.

Of our troops seventy only were killed, amongst them an Ulster gentleman who served as a volunteer; only one hundred are wounded, among whom is Colonel Farrell, who was struck on the shoulder while signalizing himself by incredible bravery.

The whole army recognises this victory as from God, every voice declares that not they, but the Apostolic money and provisions have brought forth such great fruits. Every one slaughtered his adversary, and Sir Phelim O’Neill, who bore himself most bravely when asked by the colonels for a list of his prisoners, swore that his regiment had not one, as he had ordered his men to kill them all without distinction. The annals of the history of this Island show that at no period has a greater defeat and loss of life been sustained by any enemy; and that 400 years ago, only one equally crushing had been sustained by the Scotch. On reviewing the whole affair from the beginning to the end, one can see nothing to find fault with in its management, either in judgment or foresight; and even envy can impute no failure or imprudence either to officers or men. The enemy’s army was to have been joined by Tyrconnel’s Horse and 2,500 Infantry, (which however did not arrive in time) and to have marched immediately upon Kilkenny; a resolution which we discovered from letters found upon Viscount Montgomery, General of the cavalry, one of our prisoners, who has since confessed to the whole and has shown where the troops were to have been quartered. This, more than all the rest makes the goodness of Providence more wonderfully apparent towards the followers of its Holy Faith.

On the evening of Saturday the 13th, news and confirmation of the victory arrived in Limerick and Father O’Hartigan conveyed to the Nuncio thirty-two ensigns and the great standard of the cavalry: Monsignor then ordered that public thanks should be offered up in the following manner:—

The succeeding day at 4 o’clock p.m. the trophies were brought in procession from the Church of St. Francis where they had been deposited, preceded by all the militia of Limerick armed with muskets; next came the Ensigns, borne by the nobles of the city. The Nuncio followed with the Archbishop of Cashel and the Bishops of Limerick, Clonfert and Ardfert, and after them came the Supreme Council with the Prelates and Magistrates in their robes of State. The people were collected in the streets and at the windows and as soon as the trophy arrived at the Cathedral, the Te Deum was sung from the music of the Nuncio, who after the customary prayers gave a solemn benediction. The morning after high mass was performed pro gratiarum actione, sung by the Dean of Fermo in presence of the same Bishops and Magistrates. These prayers it is hoped will procure from Divine Goodness a happy sequel to this victory as it is said that General O’Neill is marching towards Tyrconnell’s army, and all true Catholics wait on the will of the all-perfect God, knowing that He will listen when they implore Him with faithful hearts and guided by the Supreme Pastor and Director of Souls, &c., &c.