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Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 42.djvu/172

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O'Mahony
O'Mahony
166

into Cremona by means of a sewer, in possession of the town. Prince Eugène had discovered the quarters of many of the French officers, who were captured before they had time to dress. O'Mahony, however, seized his pistols, and found means of joining a detachment of his regiment which held the Po gate. This position formed the nucleus of an effective resistance to Eugène's occupation of the town. As O'Mahony obtained reinforcements he spread them along the ramparts, and kept up a galling fusillade on the enemy. This diversion gave the Comte de Revel time to concentrate and reanimate a large number of French troops in the neighbourhood of the Mantua gate, and Eugène, finding himself between two fires, thought it expedient to retire from the city after a vain attempt to bribe O'Mahony to relinquish his occupation of the Po gate. Thus ended the surprise of Cremona, one of the most remarkable events in modern warfare: a garrison of seven thousand men, in a town strongly fortified, surprised in their beds, obliged to march in their shirts, in the obscurity of the night, through streets filled with cavalry, meeting death at every step; scattered in small bodies, without officers to lead them, fighting for ten hours without food or clothes, in the depth of winter, yet recovering gradually every post, and ultimately forcing the enemy to a precipitate retreat. On account of the important service rendered by the Irish major to the French cause, he was selected to carry the despatch to Paris. Louis accorded him an hour's private conference at Versailles, gave him his brevet as colonel, and a pension of a thousand livres, besides a present of a thousand louis-d'or to defray the expenses of his journey. From Versailles O'Mahony proceeded to St. Germains, where he was knighted by the Pretender, James III (Sevin de Quincy, Hist. Militaire, iii. 629; Pelet, Mémoires Militaires, ii. 670, ‘Relation de M. de Vaudry’). The gallantry displayed by the Irish in this affair occasioned the once favourite air, ‘The day we beat the Germans at Cremona.’ O'Mahony continued to serve in North Italy under Vendôme; he was appointed governor of Brescello upon its surrender on 28 July 1703, and in January 1704 he took part in Vendôme's successes at San Sebastian and Castel Novo de Bormida. Early in the same year, however, O'Mahony left Italy. Efficient officers were urgently needed in the Spanish service, and Louis XIV consequently recommended the Irish colonel to his nephew, Philip V. A regiment was soon found for him, composed largely of deserters from the British expedition to Cadiz (Journal de Dangeau, ix. 358), and during the remainder of 1704 and the whole of 1705 O'Mahony made himself conspicuous under the Prince de Tilly by his services against the miquelets of the archduke's party. The picturesque details of his being circumvented by Peterborough at Murviedro early in 1706, drawn from Carleton's ‘Memoirs’ and Freind's ‘Relation of Peterborough's Services in Spain,’ are probably wholly fictitious. O'Mahony had at the time but a small force under his control, and was occupied in the transport of wounded soldiers, so that he probably had no alternative but to let Peterborough pass on his way to Valencia. If he had been culpable of such indiscretion as the story implies, he would hardly, as was the case, have been created maréchal-de-camp by Philip V in the course of this same spring. Shortly after his promotion O'Mahony stormed and sacked Enguera, and in June he bravely defended Alicante against Sir John Leake. Though the garrison was small, and the ramparts needed incessant repairs, he would have held out much longer than twenty-seven days had not the Neapolitans under his command forced the surrender by deliberately poisoning the wells. As it was, his troops marched out with the honours of war, and were transported to Cadiz without loss of service. The courtesy of General Gorges permitted a British surgeon to attend to the severe wound which O'Mahony received in the course of the defence. Early in 1707 O'Mahony resumed his command in Valencia, and captured several towns from the allies. He also commanded a brigade of horse at the battle of Almanza, and at the head of his Irish dragoons, according to Bellerive, performed astonishing actions. On 7 July he was again badly wounded at the siege of Denia. Before the close of 1707, however, he was again in command of some six thousand regular troops in Valencia, and he captured the important town of Alcoy on 2 Jan. 1708 (Lafuente, Historia, xviii. 207). In March 1709 he was appointed to the command of the Spanish forces in Sicily, comprising upwards of three thousand infantry, in addition to his regiment of Irish dragoons. He reached Messina in April, suppressed several Austrian conspiracies, and took such precautions as effectively prevented the English fleet from landing any of the allied forces. In 1710 he returned to Spain, where he was required to command the cavalry of the Gallo-Spanish army. On his return Philip promoted him lieutenant-general, and created him a count of Castile. He subsequently served in the campaign of Ivaris, under the king, and on 20 Aug. 1710 he commanded the Spanish cavalry at Sara-