In March Ormond and Monck moved south to clear Wicklow and Wexford of Confederation forces. Preston moved to block the expedition at Old Ross, where on the 18 th of March, concentrated small arms and artillery fire halted his forces and he was forced to withdraw. By the end of March Ormond was moving back to Dublin having cleared Wicklow and Wexford.
In April the offensive capability of the Confederation forces was enhanced by the arrival of heavy siege artillery, courtesy of Spain and large subsidies from the Pope and Spain. This allowed the Confederation forces to provide pay and logistical support to a military force freed from local support. The heavy siege artillery would have been useful, had the road network and logistical support been available for it to be used. There were however a few occasions when the artillery was put to use, the appearance of which was enough to cause capitulation.
In April 1643 Sir Robert Stewart was appointed governor of Londonderry by Ormond and in June his Laggan army defeated O’Neill at Clones as Owen O’Neil was attempting to withdraw from Ulster into Connacht. Most of Owen O’Neil’s continental veterans were lost as a result of the battle. It was the timely arrival of Philem O’Neil’s force out of Kilkenny that allowed for reinforcement and continued viability of a Confederation force in the region.
May found Monro at Dumbro, massing a force to move into Armagh. He was in the process of conducting clearing operations and made an attempt to surprise Owen Roe O’Neil at Charlemont before he could be reinforced by Preston and Philem O’Neil. The attempt resulted in a hard fought battle, but no siege due to a lack of required supplies. From there Monro moved to Newcastle to reinforce Colonel Home’s siege. Antrim was, once more, captured in the process.
Antrim was captured while negotiating support for Charles I from the royalist government in Dublin and the Irish rebels. He was also prepared to offer the Army of Ulster a bribe, failing that they were to be destroyed by the combined efforts of the Dublin forces and rebel Irish. Planning for an expedition to Scotland under Alasdair MacColla was in the works as well. Knowledge of his efforts doubtless had a positive influence on Scottish support for Parliament. Being an embarrassing prisoner, he did Monro the kindness of escaping again.
In August, Monro began making plans for a siege of Charlemont, the capital of the Irish Confederacy, but his efforts were thwarted by the starling discovery of a cessation of hostilities between the rebels and his supposed ally the Earl of Ormond. By September 1643 a year’s cessation of arms between Royalists under Ormond and Irish Confederation was agreed to and signed. The Cessation was not recognized by Scots Army and by most of the Ulster Protestants. Colonel Monck remained in action up until the Cessation Agreement in attempting to relieve Trim.
The war in England had made Parliamentary financial support for the Army of Ulster difficult to afford and so Scotland began to assume some of the responsibility of supporting the army, while efforts continued to get the English Parliament to live up to its treaty obligations. The financial support of the Army of Ulster continued to be a burden on both the Scots and English governments until its disbandment in 1648. There can be no doubt that the Army of Ulster was also a burden on those it was sent to defend and the people of Ulster paid a high price for its presence as well.
On 25 September Solemn League and Covenant between Scotland and English Parliamentarians was agreed to, creating an alliance between the two, obligating the Scots to provide an army to use against the Royalists in return for English conformity to Presbyterian worship, or so the Scots thought.