Read CHAPTER XXX of The Hero of Ticonderoga / Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys, free online book, by John de Morgan, on

Irish hospitality.

Some months later the ministry decided to deport the American prisoners, and the captain of the Solebay, man-of-war, was ordered to take the prisoners back to America under sealed orders.

It was a pleasant change to leave the barrack prison, even for captivity on board a man-of-war.

Gradually the strictness had relaxed and the prisoners were treated better, and Allen fully believed that the meaning of the return to America was that they were to be liberated in exchange.

The master of arms on the Solebay was an Irishman named Michael Gilligan, and the vessel had only been out two nights when Gilligan sought Allen and offered him his friendship.

“And it’s meself as would be a rebel if I were free, but, bad cess to it, I was pressed, and so I made the best of a bad job, and will fight for the flag because it is my duty.”

“I admire a brave Englishman ;” Allen commenced, but was cut short with the remark:

“I’m not an Englishman, but I’m Irish, and my people are all rebels. Will ye let me be your friend?”

“I shall be only too pleased.”

“Then you’ll berth with me. Sure it’s not such a place as I’d like to be offering you, but it’s better than this.”

Gilligan held a similar rank to that of a sergeant of a regiment, and was a man of considerable importance on board.

He had a berth between decks, inclosed in canvas, and, as it was large, Allen had plenty of room.

When Cork, or rather the Cove of Cork, now called Queenstown, was reached and the Solebay cast anchor, the rumor spread through the cove that a number of American rebels were on board.

Allen was standing on deck looking over the finest harbor in Europe, when his attention was called to a small boat hailing the war ship.

Some men climbed up on deck and asked for Col. Allen, of America.

Allen was so close that he could not help hearing, and he answered that he was Ethan Allen.

John Hays, a merchant of Cork, clasped Allen’s hand and tried to speak, but, instead of words, tears flowed down his cheeks and his voice was choked.

When he did master his emotion he exclaimed, with patriarchal fervor:

“Heaven bless you and all brave men like you who are fighting for liberty.”

He introduced his friend, merchant Clark, also of Cork, and said their mission was to offer the patriots such things as they stood in need of.

Clothes, or money, or food would be willingly given if Allen would only say what was most needed.

The offer was gratifying, and Allen expressed a wish for clothes for the prisoners. He explained that, though prisoners for several months, they had not received a change of clothes, and that some were absolutely in rags.

The next day a boat well laden pulled to the Solebay, and suits of clothes were found for each of the thirty-four prisoners.

A complete suit of underwear, an outer suit of warm material, an overcoat and two extra shirts, were bestowed on each of the prisoners, while Allen received superfine broadcloth sufficient for two jackets, and two pairs of breaches, in addition to a suit already made. He also received eight fine Holland shirts and socks ready made, a number of pairs of silk hose, two pairs of shoes, two beaver hats, one of which, richly laced with gold, came from James Bonwell, a wealthy merchant of Cork.

On the following day the boat returned to the ship laden with wines, spirits, sugar, tea and chocolate, a large round of picked beef, a number of fat turkeys and many other articles for Allen’s personal use, while each of the men received two pounds of tea and six pounds of sugar, with plenty of meat, chickens and turkeys for the mess table of the prisoners.

Two days after the receipt of the stores the captain prohibited anything more being delivered to the prisoners, and took away everything which the men of Cork had given except the clothing.

He shouted himself hoarse about the way the rebels were being feasted.

“I heard him say,” says Ethan Allen, in his autobiography, “that by all that was holy the American rebels should not be feasted by the rebels of Ireland.”

An application was made by the Mayor of Cork for permission to be granted to Ethan Allen to attend a banquet to be given in his honor by the city, the mayor and ten leading citizens being willing to give bond for his return to the ship the next morning.

The application was refused, and the captain gave order to weigh anchor and put out to sea.

“Sure and the skipper is as hot as a roast pertater,” said Gilligan; “he thinks for sure that the rebels of Cork will take you all off the ship by force, so he is going to put out to sea.”

The Solebay left Cork harbor that day and did not return.

After a long sail the shore of North Carolina was reached, and the hearts of the Americans beat high with hope.

The captain was almost amiable, but it was with a fiendish glee caused by the belief that the American prisoners were to be hanged on American soil.

“I want to see,” he said, to Allen, “American trees bearing the best fruit, and plenty of it.”

“I am sure I re-echo your wish,” answered Allen, whereupon the captain laughed and declared that the fruit he meant was dead Americans hanging from the boughs.

For several weeks the Solebay stayed at Cape Fear, and the prisoners were treated with great harshness.

One morning their hopes were again raised by an order for all to appear on deck.

“Stand in line!” ordered the officer.

The men did so and the roll was called.

“Colonel Allen, step forward!”

It was the first time he had been addressed by his title, and all thought it meant an exchange at least.

“Now select fifteen of the most deserving men among your company, and order them to stand out.”

Allen selected the desired number.

“Thank you, Col. Allen. The fifteen will remain, the others can go below. The fifteen will be hanged to-morrow morning at sunrise. I thank you in the name of his majesty for having selected the most worthy.”