Captain Hoehmann awoke with a start as a large explosion shattered the dawn silence. Within moment he recalled the events of the previous night and considered the sound to be good news.
The previous night most officers were mustered in the general’s tent discussing the actions of the day and the prospects for the morrow, when the adjutant looked into the tent and asked the General if he could reveal some recent intelligence. The general immediately asked for a report.
The adjutant explained that a local priest had appeared at the piquet lines in some distress and was brought to him to be interrogated. The priest was from a village to the north called Ballyboggin and a British column had just stopped there for the night. In between the continual expressions of outrage he revealed that an enemy column of militia and regular dragoons had quartered themselves on the village and indulged in various unmentionable acts, of which the worst was the quartering of the dragoon’s horses in the church. He is willing to guide us to his village and he considers that this would be a holy act. As he calmed down he revealed that the enemy strength was around four companies of militia quartered in various houses and a squadron of dragoons in the church. There is also a wagon train, which the British are extremely worried about any nearby spark or flame, which must indicate ammunition wagons. The Priest was offering to lead them back to his village to inflict divine retribution.
The General then asked if the priest seemed genuine, and the adjutant said that such fury could not falsified. To the officers as a whole the general said that this was grave news as with these reinforcements would strengthen the main enemy body to an overwhelming extent and the presence of regular dragoons would cause problems given our lack of cavalry.
Captain Barner of the Rifles then stated that he was prepared to attempt a surprise attack if any other commander would support him. Major Lowe of the Light Battalion said he was prepared to try the endeavour. Before others could volunteer, the general thanked the two officers for their offer, as they were the most capable of conducting such an operation.
General Hoehmann then announced that Major Lowe with three light companies and Captain Barner’s rifles would attempt to defeat the enemy column in Ballyboggin in particular aiming at the destruction of the enemy dragoons and if possible the wagon train. The remaining company of light infantry would provide a camp guard that night. The whole force would muster at first light and be prepared to march to the support of the lights should this prove necessary. “Now bring in the priest” he commanded. The priest was brought in but he was not overawed by the gathering, he just blessed the gathering before confronting the General and asking if he would “cleanse the unbelievers from the temple” in Latin and then English. General Hoehmann affirmed that he would help and introduced Major Lowe and Captain Barner to the priest. He also asked what assistance the priest could provide.
He was quite happy to guide the troops across the hills to Ballyboggin as there was still enough moonlight left and he also thought he might be able to rouse the villagers to attack the British as well.
The assembly was then dismissed leaving the General, the Major and Captain discussing the details of the operation with the priest.