ScotWars - Scottish Military History and Re-enactment
Battle of Knocknanoss, 1647 (Version 1)
Knocknanoss 1
Knocknanoss 2

13th November 1647

Taffe's forces consisted of approx. 8,500 infantry, and 1,200 Cavalry. Facing them was Inchiquin with approx. 4,000 infantry, but with 3,500 Cavalry, and approx. 24 Artillery pieces. The quality of his forces where far superior to Taffe in everything except cavalry.

Taffe's forces where arranged in two wings, but fatally split by the high ground out of sight of each other.:

The Right wing was commanded by Taffee, it consisted of 4,500 infantry, and four regiments of horse approx. 800.

His Left wing was commanded by MacColla, this consisted of 3,500 infantry and 800 horse under the dashing and brave Captain Purcell. Facing MacColla on the opposite side was the bulk of Inchquin's infantry and all of his artillery, they had taken up fortified defensive positions. However it was Taffe who was in mortal danger, Inchiquin had amassed all of his heavy cavalry which was facing him behind a hill unseen to both Taffe and MacColla.

Inchquin's artillery opened up, this was the signal for MacColla, 3,500 men launched a charge, pulled up fired two volleys, Purcell's heavy dragoons swept in onto the flank of Inchiquin's flank just at the moment that MacColla's foote hit the fortifications Inchiquin's troops seasoned veterans all broke in terror under the onslaught, MacColla and Purcell's heavy dragoons continued there charge. They smashed Inchiquins flank, and routed Inchiquin's infantry for up to two miles due South, scattering or killing the bulk of Inchiquin's infantry.

Inchiquin was completely unfrassled (one can almost imagine him yawning)he simply launched his cavalry in a thunderous charge, while the highland charge may instil and incapacitate an opponent with fright, the sight of 3,500 heavy dragoons bearing down on you was equally terrifying, particularly as the make up of Taffee's infantry was pathetic[no Gaelic Irish fighting man worth his salt would fight under this man]. This charge caused Taffe's right to not actually wait for Inchiquin's cavalry, they simply ran faster than the horses. Taffe's forces where hopelessly scattered, he and his cavalry did the contemporary thing that most Lord's did and simply galloped away. However this is probably a little unfair as it is recorded that his cavalry killed 200 of his own men trying to get them to stand, this action probably accounts for the [rightful]charge of collusion with Inchiquin.

But.............. Inchiquin as much as I am loathe to say it was a minor military genius, he swung left and turned, following the path of no resistence, and instead of indulging in pursuit, he fell on the unsuspecting MacColla and the left wing. MacColla who was standing on a cannon with a party of 14 desperately seeking news of Taffe's whereabouts, he was with 14 scouts and about a mile from his forces, who where gathering booty. An advance troop of Inchiquin's cavalry, which MacColla mistook for Taffe's, unarmed, he was defenceless.

MacColla for the first time in his life pleaded and was granted quarter, however he was run through with his own sword under quarter by a party of cavalry (the officer was shot personally by Inchiquin as his reward, it is possibly the only honourable thing that Inchiquin did in his life).

MacColla's men immediately launched themselves into the attack, it is said of MacColla's Scottish/Irish regiment of 1,500 men only 70 surrendered. Purcell's cavalry put up a brave rear guard action out-numbered 6 to1 they repeatedly charged into the advancing Inchiquin, while Purcell personally pleaded with the Scot's to extricate themselves[they refused preferring death, utterly inconsolable over the death of MacColla], as a result of Purcell and MacColla's regiment's action many of the left wing escaped, Taffe's right hardly even saw one of the enemy, indeed the only casualties they suffered was when Taffe executed about 200. Taffe incidentally fled to the Confederate Fortifications around the City of Limerick, he promptly fled as the populace and garrison was baying rightly for his blood. He subsequently played little more military role in the next six years fighting.

Inchiquin's infantry troop was however badly mauled, it could be said to be a physic victory for Inchiquin as he probably lost in the region of 3,500 men. It is said he had to leave the cannon where they where as he did not have enough men or horse to pull them away.

Total casualties are very hard to ascertain but it is in all probability around 5,000 most in Inchiquins army.

Note: Inchiquin was deep in hostile country, Lord Muskerry and his Gaelige Kerry/Cork troops remained aloof, neither did the forces of the Limerick/Tipperary forces under Mount Garret commit themselves, this is I am sure bewildering to most folk but I find this incredible that a Papal excommunication on Taffe would prevent these other more experienced troops from attacking Inchiquin. Inchiquin with his battered forces returned crippled to Cork. A month later he joined the Royalist side[bloody hell], and indeed in Exile on the Continent in 1656 he became a devout Catholic.

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