Head Quarters at Castlebar, 11th Fructidor, 6th Year of the French Republic.
THE GENERAL COMMANDING IN CHIEF THE ARMY OF IRELAND, TO THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTORY.
I am to report to you, Citizens Directors, what have been my operations in Ireland.
On the 4th Fructidor, as soon as I got within sight of Broadhaven, the army received the appellation of Army of Ireland. The wind being unfavourable, we could not make the land on that day.
On the 5th, the division of frigates, after beating against wind and tide during 12 hours, anchored in the Bay of Killala about three o’clock p.m. In consequence of our having hoisted the English flag, many persons of note, and some English officers, came on board; – it is impossible to describe the astonishment at the sight of us. – At four, orders were given to disembark. The Adjutant General Sarrazin landed first, at the head of the grenadiers. I ordered him to march to Killala, which he carried with the bayonet. I appointed him General of Brigade on the field of battle. The enemy was completely defeated. Of 200 men who defended the post, about 20 only escaped over the walls – the rest were taken or killed. Almost all the prisoners begged to be permitted to serve with us, and I readily consented to their request. The disembarkation was completed towards 10 o’clock p.m.
On the 6th, General Sarrazin reconnoitred Ballina; a slight skirmish only took place, the enemy’s cavalry having retired in full gallop the space of two leagues.
On the 7th, I marched with the army against Ballina. General Sarrazin, at the head of the grenadiers and of one battalion of the line, dispersed everything that opposed his passage. The Adjutant General Fontaine was directed to turn the enemy’s flank. This attack succeeded, and he took several prisoners. I pursued the cavalry during a considerable time, with the brave 3d regiment of Chaffeurs à Cheval.
On the 8th, the French army was joined by a corps of United Irishmen, who were armed and clothed on the spot. Towards three o’clock p.m. I moved forward to Rappa, and remained in that direction until two o’clock p.m.
On the 9th, the army advanced to Ballina, where it took post, but marched from it at three o’clock p.m. – After a march of 15 hours, I arrived on the 10th, at six o’clock in the morning, on the heights in the rear of Castlebar. Having examined the enemy’s position, which was very strong, I ordered General Sarrazin to commence the attack. The enemy’s skirmishers were rapidly driven in, and were pursued as far as the foot of the enemy’s position. The grenadiers charged their line of battle, and were supported by the infantry of the line. The columns deployed under the fire of 12 pieces of cannon. General Sarrazin ordered the enemy’s left to be attacked by a battalion of the line, which was obliged to give way, having received the fire of upwards of 2,000 men. General Sarrazin flew to its support at the head of the grenadiers, and repulsed the enemy. The English, during half an hour, kept up a tremendous fire of musketry, to which General Sarrazin forbid reposting. Our determined countenance disconcerted the English General, and as soon as the whole of the army had come up, I ordered a general attack to be made. General Sarrazin drove in the enemy’s right, and took three pieces of cannon. The Chief of Battalion, Ardouin, obliged his left to retire to Castlebar.
The enemy having concentrated his force in Castlebar, and protected by his artillery kept up a terrible fire – but by a successful charge of the 3d regiment of Chaffeurs à Cheval, made through the main street of Castlebar, he was forced to retire across the bridge. After several very destructive charges, both of cavalry and infantry, directed by General Sarrazin and Adjutant General Fontaine, the enemy was driven from all his positions, and pursued for the space of two leagues.
The enemy’s loss amounts to 1,800 men (of which 600 killed or wounded, and 1,200 prisoners), 10 pieces of cannon, 5 stand of colours, 1,200 firelocks, and almost all his baggage. The standard of his cavalry was taken in a charge by General Sarrazin, whom I named General of Division on the field of battle. I also, during the action, appointed the Adjutant General Fontaine, General of Brigade, and the Chiefs of Battalion Azemare, Ardouin, and Dufour, Chiefs of Brigade. I further named Captain Durival a Commander of Squadron, and Captains Touffaint, Zilberman, Ranou, Huette, Babiu, and Rutz, Chiefs of Battalion. I beg, Citizens Directors, that you will be pleased to confirm these promotions, and that you will send the commissions as soon as possible, as it will be productive of very good effects.
Officers and soldiers have shewn prodigies of valour. We have to regret the loss of some excellent officers and very brave soldiers. I shall very shortly forward to you further details; at present I will only add, that the enemy’s army, consisting of between 5 and 6,000 men, of which 600 cavalry, has been completely dispersed.
Health and Respect,
Head Quarters, Castlebar, 11th Fructidor, 6th year of the French Republic.
THE GENERAL COMMANDING IN CHIEF THE ARMY OF IRELAND, TO THE MINISTER OF MARINE.
I transmit to you, Citizen Minister, the copy of my letter to the Executive Directory. You will perceive that no exertions are wanting on our part to fulfil the intentions of Government.
I have made several appointments, according to the actions and to the military talents displayed by those whom they regard, and I solicit your support in obtaining from the Executive Directory, a confirmation of them.
About 600 United Irish joined me on the 8th Fructidor, and were immediately armed and clothed. On the 10th they came forward to the heights in the rear of Castlebar. The first cannon shot that was fired drove them off. I expected as much, and their panic in no way deranged my operations.
The victory of Castlebar has produced excellent effects; and I hope within three days to have with me a corps of 2 or 3,000 of the inhabitants.
The English army, which I yesterday defeated, is commanded by General Houghton, whose headquarters are now at Tuam. He intends to assemble 25,000 men to attack me; and on my side I am doing my utmost to be well prepared for his reception, and even to go and meet him should circumstances justify such proceeding. We occupy Killala, Ballina, Foxford, Castlebar, Newport, Ballinrobe, and Westport. As soon as the corps of United Irishmen, which I wish to assemble, shall be clothed, I shall march against the enemy in the direction of Roscommon, where the partisans of insurrection are most zealous. As soon as the English army shall have evacuated the Province of Connaught, I shall pass the Shannon, and shall endeavour to make a junction with the insurgents in the North. When this shall have been effected, I shall be in a sufficient force to march to Dublin, and to fight a decisive action.
The Irish have until this day hung back. The county of Mayo has never been disturbed, and this must account for the slowness of our progress, which in other parts would have been very different.
As this handful of French may possibly be obliged to yield to numbers, and that the noise of cannon may again produce on our new soldiers the effect it had at Castlebar, I desire you will send me one battalion of the 3d half brigade of light infantry, one of the 10th half brigade of the line, 150 of the 3d regiment of Chaffeurs à Cheval, and 100 men of the light artillery; 15,000 firelocks, and a million of cartridges.
I will venture to assert, that in the course of a month after the arrival of this reinforcement, which I estimate at 2,000 men, Ireland will be free.
The fleet may anchor in the Bay of Tarboy, by 53, 55 latitude South of L’Isle Muttette, and the disembarkation will be effected without difficulty.
I cannot sufficiently praise the conduct of the troops under my command. I must recommend my brave comrades to the gratitude of the nation, and to your paternal care.